Grading Each Houston Rockets Player's Performance at the Midseason Mark

Matt DagostinoContributor IJanuary 27, 2013

Grading Each Houston Rockets Player's Performance at the Midseason Mark

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    It's report card time in the NBA.

    Just past the midseason point, the Houston Rockets are 24-22 and in the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

    But how have the individual players rated so far this season?

    Based on a combination of overall production, improvement and how they met expectations coming into the season, here are the grades for each player.

Royce White: F

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    Drafted by the Rockets with the 16th pick at the 2012 NBA Draft, Royce White was lauded as a solid choice that could end up being one of the best value picks in the draft.

    That kind of hype had Houston fans looking forward to seeing the skills of the point forward in action.

    Those same fans are still waiting to see those skills in action.

    White's well-documented anxiety disorder in regard to flying scared some NBA teams away from drafting him. Logistically, teams felt his needs were going to be too tough to accommodate, or they might run the risk of not being able to accommodate him.

    Credit the Rockets for being willing to take on that task and wanting to help White be comfortable enough to contribute to the team.

    But everything since then has crumbled to the ground. White has yet to appear in a game for the Rockets and things got ugly on both sides. The dispute became public, and both sides were left wiping egg off their face.

    According to CBS Sports, a resolution appears to be in place, and White will get back on the court soon, albeit for Houston's D-League team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

    If everything works out and White begins to play in the second half of the season, he could prove quite fruitful for the Rockets. His combination of size and skill would help any roster.

    But as far as what has transpired to this point this season, both White and the Rockets get a failing grade.

Cole Aldrich: D

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    Aldrich was brought over as part of the James Harden trade just prior to the season as insurance for starting center Omer Asik.

    Not expected to provide a whole lot, Aldrich maybe has provided even less.

    In the first full month of the season, the former Kansas Jayhawk averaged 8.6 minutes per game. That number fell to 6.4 in December and has dropped to 4.3 in January.

    Aldrich has logged just 27 minutes in January, with 18 of them coming in one game. Yet, he has not scored a single point since Dec. 28th.

    At this point, he is just roster filler.

James Anderson: D

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    The fact that you see a photo of James Anderson in a San Antonio Spurs uniform should give a hint as to how vital he has been to the Rockets this season.

    Anderson had a little niche with the Spurs as a shooter off the bench and averaged just under four points per game in nine games.

    After being let go by San Antonio, Houston picked him up in hopes of being that same kind of bench shooter for the Rockets.

    Since Jan. 2nd, Anderson has appeared in eight games for the Rockets, never logging more than three minutes in any one game. The only points he has scored have been two three-pointers in just two minutes against the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 23rd.

    Anderson is still trying to find his way on the Rockets roster.

Terrence Jones: C-

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    Terrence Jones was taken with the 18th pick at the 2012 NBA Draft and was dubbed a guy who could play both forward spots and be a versatile offensive player.

    As has been the case with Royce White, Jones has not lived up to his billing yet.

    Unlike White, though, Jones has actually played.

    In 11 games for the Rockets, he has averaged just over three points a game in more than eight minutes a contest.

    On the plus side, Jones has spent time this season in the NBA D-League working on his game. In 12 games, he put up averages of 19.1 points and 9.8 rebounds.

    In baseball, Jones would be called a AAAA player, too good for the minors but not ready to contribute much at the big league level.

    Jones has potential to be a good player. He and the Rockets will continue to work on his development.

Donatas Motiejunas: C-

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    The story for Terrence Jones is the same for Donatas Motiejunas. Hence, the same grade.

    Motiejunas has seen action in just three games for the Rockets and posted minimal stats.

    Just like Jones, Motiejunas has given hope to Rockets fans who have noticed his success in the D-League.

    D-Mot is currently toiling in the NBA D-League, posting even better averages than Jones did. He has scored almost 21 points per game and added more than 10 rebounds an outing.

    Potential and promise are two words that get attached to Jones and Motiejunas. Maybe some of that will come to fruition in the second half of the season.

Patrick Beverley: C

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    After coming to the NBA out of the University of Arkansas in 2009, Patrick Beverley is seeing the first action of his NBA career with the Rockets this season.

    In limited action, Beverley has provided a nice little punch.

    In eight total games played, he has averaged four points per game.

    But in a stretch of five straight games of double-digit minutes, he averaged 17 minutes, 5.4 points and 2.6 assists.

    The efficiency of those numbers has some folks clamoring for him to play more minutes and the next guy on this list to play fewer minutes.

Toney Douglas: C

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    To be fair, Toney Douglas has averaged 8.2 points per game for the Rockets in 2012-13. Anytime a team can find a bench player who can provide close to double-digit scoring, some credit has to be given.

    The knock on Douglas, though, continues to be that his scoring numbers come with low percentages (40 percent from the field) and not much production in other areas of his game. Only two assists in 19 minutes per game are not a good enough for the backup point guard.

    In comparison, Patrick Beverley is doing that in 11 minutes per game.

    It will be interesting to see how coach Kevin McHale distributes the backup minutes to both point guards the rest of the season.

Jeremy Lin: B-

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    Those who expected Jeremy Lin to continue to perform like he did during his coming-out tour with the New York Knicks last season were probably a tad Linsane.

    He had played completely out of his gourd in those 25 games. He had been a 16-point, eight-assist player in that stretch.

    He brought much hype to the Houston Rockets when they signed him in the offseason, and before James Harden showed up, he carried a burden to produce. Once Harden took the lead, Lin could settle into a more reasonable role.

    By his own admission, Lin has not played at a high level this season.

    Instead of 16 points and eight assists, he is down to 12 points and six assists. He has improved his turnover average (3.6 per game with the Knicks last season compared to 3.1 this season) but still has some flaws.

    Those who expected greatness from Lin are probably more disappointed than a B-minus grade would reflect.

    Those who never thought he was an upper-echelon point guard might think he has performed as expected.

    Lin continues to be one of the most polarizing figures in the NBA. His grade will likely swing the most on this list as the season progresses.

Marcus Morris: B-

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    During a stretch in December when Patrick Patterson was injured, Marcus Morris stepped into the starting lineup.

    In those seven games, Morris averaged 12.4 points and 3.7 rebounds in almost 31 minutes a night.

    His minutes have come back down in January. But when called upon for heavy minutes on Jan. 23rd against the Charlotte Bobcats, he produced 21 points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes.

    In terms of improvement between his rookie and sophomore seasons, Morris has nearly quadrupled his scoring output.

    He is not the most physical power forward and is better suited to come off the bench at this point. But he is a nice complement to Patterson as more of a stretch power forward.

Patrick Patterson: B-

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    If you put both Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris together, you have yourself a 19-point, nine-rebound power forward.

    That's one way of looking at it.

    Patterson came out like gangbusters in November, averaging 14.2 points a game. The foot injury that cost him seven games in December knocked him off course a bit.

    January has proved to be a more difficult month for Patterson, as he is averaging almost 10 fewer minutes and is contributing just over eight points a game.

    Overall, he has turned himself into an 11-point-per-game guy this season. He has a good motor and battles hard for a guy who is undersized.

    But don't think that the Rockets are satisfied at the power forward spot. That is the first spot they would like to upgrade if given the chance.

Carlos Delfino: B

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    In his three years in Milwaukee, Carlos Delfino averaged roughly 11 points a game.

    So, it's fitting that Delfino has averaged just under 11 points for the Rockets this season while coming off the bench.

    He has been the most dependable scorer off the Houston bench and is a consistent long-range threat for the Rockets. In fact, he has averaged almost three three-pointers a game in January and is currently riding a streak of six straight games in double figures.

    He has provided exactly what Houston thought he would when it brought him aboard for 2012-13.

Greg Smith: B

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    Greg Smith has to be the most pleasant surprise of the season for the Houston Rockets.

    The 22-year-old has appeared in 40 games this season after playing in just eight in 2011-12. He has provided the backup big-man minutes and has showed the ability to score, rebound, defend and hustle.

    He has played 20 or more minutes in nine games this season. In those games, he averaged 10.5 points and 6.9 rebounds in 22 minutes.

    Smith has the stuff to produce. He just needs more opportunities to contribute.

Omer Asik: B+

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    When the Rockets signed Omer Asik to a three-year deal in the offseason, Asik had to prove he could be a starting center in the NBA and live up to a $25.1 million contract.

    Asik's numbers in Chicago were very projectable with 13 rebounds per 36 minutes in the 2011-12 season. But even in his second season with the Bulls, he averaged just 14.7 minutes a game.

    Could he hold up with starter's minutes? Could he still produce at the same level or would there be a law of diminishing returns?

    Yes and yes.

    Asik has turned into a consistent double-double center with 18 such games on the season. His rebound rate, according to John Hollinger, puts him in the top 10 in the league. Although his blocks have not risen with his increased minutes, he still remains a good low-post defender.

    He still lacks shooting touch and the ability to catch many passes. Those weaknesses hurt him in the up-tempo, pick-and-roll style of play the Rockets have implemented.

    But overall this season, his first as a starting center, has been very positive season for Asik.

Chandler Parsons: B+

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    Chandler Parsons has proved to be the real deal in his second season in the league.

    His numbers have gone up across the board, from minutes to points, from rebounds to assists.

    Of everyone on the roster, Parsons has become the glue guy for the Rockets. Anything the team asks him to do, he accepts and does it well.

    As he matures, he has the potential to produce like Luol Deng: 18 to 20 points, six rebounds and five assists with decent defense.

James Harden: A

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    Three months ago, James Harden was the sixth man on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Four days before the season started, he was traded to Houston and thrust into being the focal point of the Rockets.

    Boy, has he proved himself more than capable of handling such a role.

    That role has led him to play seven more minutes and take seven more shots per game. So yes, it's not surprising that his shooting percentage is lower and his turnovers are up because the ball is in his hands more often.

    To those who want to argue that he has not lived up to every expectation and does not deserve an A grade through the first half of the season, behold these three points:

    1.  Harden will be representing the Rockets at the All-Star Game next month, which will be played in Houston.

    2.  Harden is fifth in the NBA with 26.0 points per game.

    2.  He is fourth in estimated wins added.

    Harden has shouldered every bit of the load necessary to be the "The Man" on an NBA team.