Hello and welcome to Rockets Film Study where I, Harrison Lehrman will guide you through a recent Rockets game using the film from a number of plays I either liked or didn’t like. Simple enough right?

December 20th saw the Los Angeles Lakers visit Toyota Center to face-off against a red hot Rockets team that hadn’t lost since November 14th. Unfortunately for Mike D’Antoni and the Rockets, injuries and a brutal stretch of eight games in fourteen nights would prove too much to overcome and they would fall 116-122.

However, all is not lost, for the tape never lies and there were plenty of silver linings to be found amidst an unfortunate result. So let’s get to it!


The Good

James Harden’s 51 points.

James Harden’s game was defined by his ability to penetrate the lane and get to the free throw line. There is no doubt that Harden has been scorching from the field so far this season, but on a night with no Clint Capela and a struggling (and injured) Chris Paul Harden was forced to be more active in the offense. As a result he was unable to match his season average of ten three-point attempts, instead only shooting six and still making an impressive four. He more than made up for those lost shots though by shooting 17 of 21 from the charity stripe.

Hardens ability to lead the offense is illustrated in the two highlights above, with the differing results proving how impossible it is to guard the bearded one. Both clips start with Harden acting as the ball handler in the pick and roll. In the first clip we see Harden receive the ball from the corner, but instead of waiting for Tarik Black to establish the pick at the three-point line Harden initiates the motion early. He knows he can beat Josh Hart off the dribble and when he does Tarik Black arrives just in time to be the roadblock the Rockets know he can be. So with Hart out of the play, and Black not clogging the lane, Harden is left one on one with Andrew Bogut. We all know how that match up ends…a bucket plus the foul.

Our second clip begins in a similar manner, with Harden dribbling backwards to initiate the pick and roll. Another key aspect of this play, and the Rockets offense as a whole, can be found in the corners. From the outset you can see Trevor Ariza and Eric Gordon planted in the opposite corners. Their obvious shooting threat forces their defenders to stay close, effectively pinning two-fifths of the Lakers defense in an ineffective position and opening the entire top of the floor for Harden. And when Nene comes up to set the screen Harden is given almost the entire floor to operate.

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Just look at the space for Harden here!

Now the Lakers defense is left clueless. Will Harden drive again, potentially drawing another foul in the process? Will he drive and kick to one of his deadly shooters in the corner? Or will he iso with an already scrambling Josh Hart and bury a three all on his own. The answer, unfortunately for Josh Hart, would be the latter. And another three points for James Harden.

The Bad

Chris Paul’s first stinker in red.

One fault in the Rockets’ offense that has consistently bothered me this season is the mystifying inconsistency in the use of decoys. With two hall of fame caliber ball distributors on the floor it should be inconceivable for one to be standing still while the other operates. Now, to be fair, the Rockets run a lot of isolation, but look at Harden in the play above. It becomes pretty clear pretty quickly as this play develops that Chris Paul did not get the look he wanted out of this pick and roll. The motion starts very high, meaning Lonzo Ball can afford to drop below Nene’s screen and stay established in the defense. Typically a defender is punished for going under a screen by the ball handler taking a briefly open look at a three, but since Paul is too far back and everyone else in the Rockets offense is obviously not a part of this play, Paul is forced to dribble into a contested mid-range jumper. And every arm-chair analyst can tell you that is the antithesis to what the Rockets are trying to achieve with every possession. So how can this outcome be avoided? With motion.

Watch Eric Gordon here, Harden starts the pick and roll very high (even higher than Paul in the first clip) and Ariza and Tucker have their defenders pinned in the corner. This leaves Gordon free to roam and get his man lost in the shuffle. Now because Gordon isn’t standing still his man, Jordan Clarkson, cannot keep his eyes on Harden and keep track of EG at the same time. As a result Clarkson is caught ball watching and Gordon is allowed to leak out of the lane for a wide open three.

The Beautiful

You thought I was going to say “the ugly” didn’t you? Instead I want to show a few clips that I find immensely enjoyable but do not necessarily fit into a larger lesson to be taken from the game.


Should we all say a quick prayer for the ankles of Julius Randle? I think we should.


Screen shot 2013-11-04 at 4.02.42 PM


The Luol DAAAAANGs start the season with a dominant victory! As you can see in the screenshot above I scored better in 7 of the 9 categories. I lost in turnovers by a pretty significant margin and barely lost in blocks. Turnovers could be an issue for me going forward.

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My number one pick James Harden had a solid week, but surprisingly wasn’t my best player. He picked up 78 points, which was the team’s best, but racked up a lot of turnovers and not enough assists. I expect Jimmy Beard to turn it on even more.

My best player was probably Nikolas Vucevic. He crushed it, picking up 59 points, 45 rebounds, 10 assists, and 5 blocks. Stat sheet stuffer supreme! As Clark Kellogg would say.

Klay Thompson is shooting a ridiculous .651 right now. He’s so much fun to have on my team. Anytime he throws up a three I get crazy hyped.

Overall it was a pretty good week for the DAAAAANGs. All my players played well, let’s hope they keep it up.


The list is done! I’ve previewed every NBA team over the past couple weeks, now i’m ready to make some predictions. I’ll be listing all the playoff teams by seed. Predicting the playoff match-ups and the winners of the postseason awards. So lets get to it!

NBA Postseason Awards

Sixth Man of the Year

Jeremy Lin- Houston Rockets

Most Improved Player

Eric Bledsoe- Phoenix Suns

Defensive Player of the Year

Lebron James- Miami Heat

Rookie of the Year

Victor Oladipo- Orlando Magic

Most Valuable Player

Chris Paul- Los Angeles Clippers

All NBA 1st Team

G: Chris Paul

G: James Harden

F: Lebron James

F: Kevin Durant

C: Dwight Howard

All NBA 2nd Team

G: Derrick Rose

G: Tony Parker

F: Carmelo Anthony

F: Paul George

C: Marc Gasol

All NBA 3rd Team

G: Kyrie Irving

G: Russel Westbrook

F: Kevin Love

F: Blake Griffin

C: Brook Lopez

Playoff Seeds


  1. San Antonio Spurs
  2. Houston Rockets
  3. Los Angeles Clippers
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder
  5. Memphis Grizzlies
  6. Golden State Warriors
  7. Minnesota Timberwolves
  8. New Orleans Pelicans


  1. Chicago Bulls
  2. Miami Heat
  3. Indiana Pacers
  4. Brooklyn Nets
  5. New York Knicks
  6. Detroit Pistons
  7. Washington Wizards
  8. Milwaukee Bucks

Playoff Match-Ups

Round One


1. San Antonio vs. 8. New Orleans Pelicans- Spurs 4 games to 2.

2. Houston Rockets vs. 7. Minnesota Timberwolves- Rockets 4 games to 1

3. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 6. Golden State Warriors- Warriors 4 games to 3

4. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies- Thunder 4 games to 2


1. Chicago Bulls vs. 8. Milwaukee Bucks- Bulls 4 games to 0

2. Miami Heat vs. Washington Wizards- Heat 4 games to 1

3. Indiana Pacers vs. 6. Detroit Pistons- Pacers 4 games to 1

4. Brooklyn Nets vs. New York Knicks- Nets 4 games to 3

Round 2


1. San Antonio Spurs vs. 4. Oklahoma City Thunder- Thunder 4 games to 2

2.Houston Rockets vs. 6. Golden State Warriors- Rockets 4 games to 3


1.Chicago Bulls vs. 4. Brooklyn Nets-Bulls 4 games to 2

2. Miami Heat vs. 3. Indiana Pacers- Heat 4 games to 3

Conference Finals


2. Houston Rockets vs. 4.Oklahoma City Thunder- Rockets 4 games to 3


1. Chicago Bulls vs. 2. Miami Heat- Chicago 4 games to 3

NBA Finals

1. Chicago Bulls vs. 2. Houston Rockets

2013-2014 NBA Champions

The Chicago Bulls over the Houston Rockets 4 games to 3

So there you have it. The Bulls will win the 2013-2014 NBA Championship. Lock it in. Let’s play ball.





Team 1

Posted: October 29, 2013 in 2013-2014 NBA Preview
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The Miami Heat

As long as Lebron’s around this team is number one. They’re the back to back champs and they want the three peat. Lebron is the best player in the world, by a considerable margin, in his prime. You don’t bet against that. Sure Dwyane Wade is older, Chris Bosh has fallen off a bit, and they lost Mike Miller, but none of that matters. They only thing that matters for the Heat is Lebron. All day every day. For now and for the considerable future Lebron’s name will be synonymous with number one.

3 Things I Love about the Miami Heat

1. Lebron’s shot chart

2. Chris Bosh video bombs.

3. Dwyane Wade in F-U mode.

3 Things I hate about the Miami Heat

1. Greg Oden being relied on for production.

2. Michael Beasley on South Beach.

3. Joel Anthony having championship rings.

Most compelling Storyline of the 2013-2014 Season

It’s all about the three peat. Only the best players of all time have been able to pull off three peats. Can Lebron add his name to the list? Lebron really wants to be known as the greatest of all time, a three peat will definitely help his case. He’ll be hungrier than ever and that will bleed into the rest of the team, but they’ve never had to square off against this many good teams. This season going to be fun, I can’t wait.

One Trade to Make the Miami Better

Miami is obviously not going to make any moves this season. They’re going to ride with what got them three championships in a row. Even if they fall off a little bit during the regular season they’ll trust themselves to pick it back up for the postseason. Pat Riley isn’t a guy susceptible to any panic trades. This team is all about the playoffs.

Question to Miami General Manager Pat Riley

Mr.Riley, it’s a huge honor to be here today. You’re a basketball legend, albeit a despicable one. If this was the WWE would be one of the best heels in history. All that being said, what do you do with all your championship rings? I like to imagine you have them on a massive chain that you secretly wear under your very nice suits.

Miami’s Position in the Jersey Power Rankings


Meh. An average jersey for an above average team. There’s nothing wrong with the Heat’s jerseys, they’re just kind of boring. The flame trail on the “T” is cool though. Have to give em that.

Closing Thought as told by Mark Twain or Yogi Berra

“Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.” -Mark Twain

Team 2

Posted: October 29, 2013 in 2013-2014 NBA Preview
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The Chicago Bulls

Rose is back! Last season wasn’t the same without Derrick Rose. Basketball missed him and now he is back! He has literally murdered seven people in the preseason. They also have a top 5 coach in Tom Thibodeau, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler, and the not as bad as everyone thinks Carlos Boozer. The five man rotation of Rose-Butler-Deng-Taj Gibson-Noah will shut opponents out for minutes at a time. I can’t think of a nastier defensive lineup. The Bulls will win the most games in the regular season, once they get to the playoffs the game is on.

3 Things I Love about the Chicago Bulls

1. Derrick Rose crossovers.

2. Derrick Rose dunks.

3. Joakim Noah’s right amount of crazy.

3 Things I hate about the Chicago Bulls

1. Carlos Boozer’s spray on hair.

2. The Deng spinal tap story.

3. Mike Dunleavy Jr. chances of adequately replacing Marco Belinelli.

Most compelling Storyline of the 2013-2014 Season

Can the Bulls knock off the Heat? Theres no doubt that the Bulls are the number one contender to the Heat’s belt. Last year we were tragically robbed of the rivalry, this year it will be back in full force. Can the Bulls do it? I can’t wait to find out.

One Trade to Make the Chicago Bulls Better

A lot of trade talk has been surrounding Luol Deng, I hope that doesn’t happen. So much of this team depends on Deng. There’s no way the Bulls can trade Deng and get better. So I’m going to re-post the trade from the Atlanta Hawks preview to bring Al Horford to the Bulls.

Atlanta Hawks Trade: Al Horford

Chicago Bulls Trade: Joakim Noah, Charlotte’s first rounder, Chicago’s first rounder, rights european superstar Nikola Mirotic.

Once again credit for this trade idea has to go to Bill Simmons of Grantland. If you’re the Bulls you have to throw the kitchen sink at the Hawks for Horford. With this trade you can lose Boozers defensive vulnerabilities and gain the Horford-Noah chemistry. This trade has to happen.

Question to Chicago General Manager Gar Forman

Gar Forman? Weird name. Where’d that name come from? Did your parents really like scary, alligator looking fish?

Chicago’s Position in the Jersey Power Rankings


Another great classic look. Michael Jordan made these famous. Anything that pre-team owner Jordan did is perfect. Love the look, love the color scheme, love the mascot.

Closing Thought as told by Mark Twain or Yogi Berra

“He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.” -Yogi Berra

Team 3

Posted: October 29, 2013 in 2013-2014 NBA Preview
Tags: , ,


The San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs will never die. For years I’ve been saying they’re too old and for years they’ve proven me on. I’m done counting the Spurs out. If this is finally the year then I’ll take the loss. Greg Popovich is a proven genius, Tony Parker is a proven frenchman, Tim Duncan is a proven alien, Kawhi Leonard is a proven cornrow, and Manu Ginobli might actually be washed up. I loved the addition of Sylvester Stallone Marco Belinelli, he’s the perfect Spur and he really benefitted from learning the Tom Thibodeau defense. The Spurs will never die, Duncan will never retire, and Popovich will always be smarter than me.

3 Things I Love about the San Antonio Spurs

1. Tony Parker’s floater.

2. Popovich’s post game interviews.

3. The hope that Ginobli can come back.

3 Things I hate about the San Antonio Spurs

1. Tony Parker as a nightclub owner.

2. Thiago Splitter’s ceiling. 

3. Danny Green being seriously overrated.

Most compelling Storyline of the 2013-2014 Season

Can they do it again? Not only are the old guys older, but they just went through one of the most heartbreaking NBA Finals in NBA history. All the cards are stacked against them, but they have one of the greatest coaches ever. If Popovich can get this team back to the top I think it will be his most impressive feat in the NBA.

One Trade to Make the San Antonio Spurs Better

The Spurs don’t trade very often, but I think they could use another young guy to bring in off the bench.

San Antonio Spurs trade: Boris Diaw’s expiring, Nando De Colo’s expiring, and a second round draft pick

Phoenix Suns trade: Goran Dragic

Dragic is another guy that is the perfect Spurs player. He doesn’t play great defense, but he isn’t terrible. He also has a slash and kick game very similar to Tony Parker’s, plus he shoots threes. I love having Dragic come off the bench for this team. He can give Parker a lot of rest without there being a significant drop off. He definitely makes the Spurs better than Boris “Fat” Diaw. #freeDragic

Question to San Antonio General Manager R.C. Buford

Mr.Buford, your team is one of the oldest in the league. Do you have any plans on getting younger? Also, why the hell is Boris Diaw still in the NBA?

San Antonio’s Position in the Jersey Power Rankings


The Spurs have a simple look. Just their home and away jerseys are perfectly acceptable.  Where the wheels come off is the terrible, dreadful, gross, nauseating, all grey jerseys. Far and away my least favorite in the league. If they stop wearing it their rank will jump a lot.

Closing Thought as told by Mark Twain or Yogi Berra

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.” -Mark Twain

Team 4

Posted: October 29, 2013 in 2013-2014 NBA Preview
Tags: , ,


The Houston Rockets

Dork Elvis has arrived! Daryl Morey had another stellar summer, acquiring marquee free agent Dwight Howard to join forces with James Harden. Harden made one of the biggest leaps in recent memory last year, finally given the opportunity to be the center of an offense. The beard jumped from 16.8 points per game to 25.9 wile also having all of the opposition attention. Harden’s points might go down after Howard joins the fray, but he should be much more efficient with his offense. I see Harden having an even better year this year overall and grabbing one of the first team All-NBA guard slots. Howard should be much improved as well as he sheds the rotting snake skin known as the Los Angeles Lakers. Dwight finally seems happy and healthy which should culminate in a return to his pre-Lakers form. Chandler Parsons is also a candidate to get even better this year. With defenses focusing on Howard and Harden Parsons will fully bloom into a proper third banana.

Daryl Morey isn’t done either. The Rockets still have one move in them, if Morey gets it right this team will be inflicting damage throughout the year.

3 Things I Love about the Houston Rockets

1. James Harden, magician

2. Chandler Parsons, boy wonder.

3. “Balls of Fury 2: Daryl Morey vs. the World.”

3 Things I hate about the Houston Rockets

1. I have my concerns about the Asik-Howard pairing.

2. Terrence Jones stomping out homeless people.

3. Uhhhh. I’m out.

Most compelling Storyline of the 2013-2014 Season

Can Dwight Howard return to form? The national media spotlight will be fully focused on Howard all season long. If Howard can dominate again he will be fully exonerated, but if he struggles expect the circus start again. And we all know nobody wants anything to do with the negative Dwight Howard circus.

One Trade to Make the Houston Rockets Better

Daryl Morey is never done. He has more moves than Detroit basketball fans. The Asik-Howard experiment is still in progress, if it doesn’t work Asik will have very high stock around the league.

Houston Rockets trade: Omer Asik, Donatas Motiejunas, any and all future draft assets

Minnesota Timberwolves trade: Kevin Love

This is the biggest move possible. A number of smaller moves are obviously more likely. But just imagine the Rockets with Kevin Love. It’s like imagining basketball heaven. Kevin Love is the ideal stretch four to pair with Dwight Howard. If Kevin Love becomes unhappy in Minnesota, who wouldn’t, the Wolves will have to panic trade him. They might demand Chandler Parsons for Love, which is understandable, but the Rockets probably won’t budge with Chandler. This trade isn’t likely, but if anybody can make it happen it’s Daryl Morey.

Question to Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey

This is an unrealistic section for me. If I was given the opportunity to speak with Daryl Morey I would faint almost immediately. I would have to write him a letter instead, and inside the letter would be nothing but cologne covered candy hearts asking Daryl to the prom I attended 3 and a half years ago. Love you Dork Elvis.

Houston’s Position in the Jersey Power Rankings


The Rockets have a nice, respectable jersey that really works. The red and white color scheme is excellent. The McDonalds inspired alternates are okay, but not my favorites. The only problem I could see with the jerseys is the parabolas brandishing the side, those are a little gimmicky.

Closing Thought as told by Mark Twain or Yogi Berra

“Pair up in threes.” -Yogi Berra