Jeremy Lin wanted to become the next Walt "Clyde" Frazier in New York. That turned into a Linsane notion. However, Lin has joined forces in Houston with a scintillating scorer reminiscent of Frazier's backcourt mate and fellow Hall of Famer Earl "The Pearl" Monroe.
Upon his shocking arrival in H-Town, James Harden went into the Monroe Zone of the 1970's known as the "Earl The Pearl Magic Show".
Harden's dazzling road show resulted in 82 points in his first two games as a Rocket, surpassing Wilt Chamberlain's 79 for the best two-game start with a new team in NBA history. That record had stood since 1959 when "Wilt The Stilt" began his career with the Philadelphia Warriors.
Houston's brand new 2012 backcourt clicked immediately and has put up some startling statistics through the first three weeks of the season. However, as a team, the Rockets have put up numbers that can be described as The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
*statistics updated through games as of Monday, Nov. 19
Omer Asik's back-loaded contract looks like a a veritable bargain for the Rockets. After two ho-hum seasons off the Bulls bench, the big man from Turkey is making huge strides as Houston's starting center.
Asik's rebounds per minute are roughly the same as last season, but they are even more impressive because he's sustained the pace over extended playing time.
In fact, only Moses Malone averaged more career rebounds (fifteen) as a Rocket than Asik's 12.3 so far. This is a startling statistic, but should be taken with a grain of salt. Asik has played all of 11 games with the Rockets. Hakeem Olajuwon averaged 11.4 rebounds for the Rockets over 1,177 games.
2011-12 Bulls 2012-13 Rockets
Minutes p/g 14.7 32.3
Points p/g 3.1 10.0
Free Throw % 45.6 62.5
Rebounds p/g 5.3 *12.3
*ranks 3rd in the NBA
Houston expected Asik to be a premier rebounder, so his advanced repertoire on offense has been the most pleasant surprise. His improved free throw shooting has been key with all the additional touches for the 7-footer. Despite his current 2-10 slump from the line, Asik is in the 60 percentile for the first time in his career.
The only Asik statistic that is concerning are his blocks, or lack thereof. With more than double the playing time of last season, Asik is still averaging a mere 1.2 blocks per game. This is just one of the reasons the Rockets rank near the bottom of the NBA in defense.
James Harden's Rockets debut in Detroit couldn't have gone any better, right? He joined Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and Dwayne Wade as the only players in a quarter century with 37 points, 12 assists, six rebounds, four steals and one block in a single game. Harden shot 14-25 from the field.
Actually, it could have gone better and did in his second game at Atlanta: 14-19 FG and 15-17 FT gave Harden a career-high 45 points.
Even after the flu-bug limited Harden to six points in 17 minutes at Utah Monday night, he still ranks fourth in the NBA in scoring this season. The NBA's best sixth man last season with OKC has become a favorite to represent the Rockets in the 2012-13 All-Star Game in Houston:
Harden Eclipsing Last Season's Career-Highs
2011-12 Thunder 2012-13 Rockets
Minutes p/g 31.4 37.9
Points p/g 16.8 24.2
Points Per Minute 0.54 0.64
Assists p/g 3.7 4.7
Harden also ranks first in the NBA this season with 82 made free throws; his 99 free throw attempts trails only Dwight Howard, who often gets the Hack-a-Shaq treatment in LA.
First, the good news. In 11 starts for the Rockets, Jeremy Lin is averaging two steals per game. That matches his average in 25 starts for the Knicks last season.
Houston's new point guard has also reduced his turnovers dramatically, down to 2.6 per contest. He's averaging 6.6 assists, which is better than his 35-game average last season of 6.2. However, in his 25 starts with the Knicks, Lin averaged 7.6 assists.
Last season's "Linsanity" may not be a fair measuring stick, but it does make for some startling comparisons. Especially if you go by just the first 11 games:
11 games of Linsanity 2011-12 Lin's first 11 games 2012-13
Points p/g 23.9 10.5
FG 50.0% (95-190) 34.2% (40-117)
3-PT FG 36.1% 24.2%
Assists p/g 9.2 6.6
Turnovers p/g 5.5 2.6
Keep in mind that Carmelo Anthony was injured during the height of Linsanity with the Knicks. Lin's production and New York's record suffered after Melo's return. They had no chemistry together and that was unlikely to change.
My personal conclusion is that these statistics are interesting, but hardly tell the whole Jeremy Lin story. His situation in Houston is far different than in New York, and Lin may very well still warrant his hefty contract.
That being said, one thing is quite clear. Lin is more effective when he dominates the ball and aggressively looks to shoot. His hesitancy to do so may be admirable to pure point guards, but that's not who he is and doesn't help this 2012-13 version of the Rockets much.
Chandler Parsons is earning every dime of his $900k salary; he also ranks among NBA leaders in several categories, but that isn't always a good thing.
Parsons is a very solid player for a second round pick in his second season. However, he personifies the Rockets in two concerning statistical categories. He's been forced to play too many minutes due to a thin bench. And it's tough not to block one shot through 11 games when you are 6'9''.
CHANDLER PARSONS PROJECT
37.9 minutes p/g 9
65 3-point field goals attempted 5
25 3-point field goals made 5
0 blocked shots Tied for Last
Toney Douglas would have been great as a member of the "Smothers Brothers."
In H-Town, that's a 1980's reference for the Houston Cougars bench that gave opposing offenses fits. Stop me if you remember the names of Eric Dickens, Renaldo Thomas and Derek Giles.
The point is that Douglas is purely a defensive specialist and ill-prepared to replace Jeremy Lin in the Rockets starting lineup.
Douglas' shooting percentages have gone straight downhill in his NBA career and it's possible comedian Tommy Smothers now has a better jumper:
FG% 3-PT FG%
2009-10 NYK 45.8 38.9
2010-11 NYK 41.6 37.3
2011-12 NYK 32.4 23.1
2012-13 HOU 28.6 25.0
There is a silver lining, however. Douglas' three-point percentage actually improved somewhat last night in Utah when he shot 1-3 from behind the arc.
Below are the Rockets rankings among the 30 NBA teams in several key categories. Suffice to say, they qualify for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
Rockets Team Stats NBA Rank
+ 2.6 Rebounding Differential p/g 8
78.4% Free Throws 6
99.4 Points Scored p/g 10
8.7 3-Point Field Goals Made 4
27.4 3-Point Field Goals Attempted 1
31.9% 3-Point Field Goals 22
38.7% Opp. 3-Point Field Goals 28
4.2 Blocked Shots p/g 25
100.9 Points Allowed p/g 27
You may well be aware that the Rockets have the youngest team in the NBA. But, when you dissect the numbers, you'll find that it's not even close. Also, check out how none of the five youngest teams have a winning record through Nov. 19. Therefore, you should not be discouraged if you are a Rockets fan.
Team's Average Age Win-Loss Record
Houston 24 years, 8 days 4-7
New Orleans 24 years, 316 days 3-5
Denver 24 years, 352 days 5-6
Cleveland 25 years, 1 day 2-8
Portland 25 years, 51 days 5-5