Thursday, April 24, 2014

Free Jordan Hamilton

After losing Game 1 and Game 2 at home, it's adjustment time for Kevin McHale and the Rockets, who are this close to seeing their season slip away. The most obvious move is in their perimeter rotation - Jordan Hamilton, whom they acquired from the Nuggets at the deadline, went from 15 minutes a game in the regular season to not getting off the bench in the first two games.

McHale went with experience in Francisco Garcia, but he's pretty much at the end of his rope. He's 32 years old and he was never that athletic to begin with. He's not hitting his shots and he doesn't add much value in the time he's on the floor. The 22 total minutes he got in the first two games are really easy places to upgrade your rotation.

Hamilton, a 6'7 215 shooter who can put the ball on the floor, is the perfect fit in the Rockets system. He stretches the defense all the way out to the three-point line, shooting 37% from 3 in his time with Houston. At 6'7, it's hard to close-out on him and affect his shot. If you do, he has the ball-handling ability to create an easier shot.

That's the adjustment Portland made in Game 2, when they gave Dorrell Wright 18 minutes at the backup 3 and 4 spots. Instead of having Thomas Robinson playing next to Robin Lopez when LaMarcus Aldridge was out, Wright played as a stretch 4, opening up the floor for the Blazers guards to attack. He scored 15 points on 4-5 shooting - that extra offense from their bench was huge.

Houston hasn't shown much of an ability to stop Portland in this series, so they need to get as much offense as they can on the floor. Here's the rule for adding offense - if you are playing on the perimeter and you aren't creating shots, you have to shoot 3's. If you can't do either, you aren't helping the team.

That's why the Rockets should look at cutting Jeremy Lin's minutes too. Lin isn't a great outside shooter and the Blazers don't really have to respect his shot. When he's playing off the ball with James Harden and Chandler Parsons, the defense is sagging off him. And while Lin is a decent scorer and playmaker, you don't want him taking possessions away from Harden and Parsons either.

If you put in Hamilton for Lin, you are adding extra space for Parsons and Harden to operate. You are also adding a lot more length and athleticism to your perimeter D - you are going 6'5, 6'7, 6'10. You can have Patrick Beverley at 1 and slide those guys to the 2-4 positions or you can have Terrence Jones at the 4 and have them at 1-3. Hamilton's perimeter D might be an issue with that second line-up, but it's not like Lin is locking guys down either.

The odds are against the Rockets, but there are several cards left for McHale to play. The only thing he can't do is not play any - if you go down 2-0 in a series, especially at home, you have to make a few adjustments. You don't want to go down without using every bullet in your gun - if you do, you become Scott Brooks.

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