NERDS AROUND TOWN

The Nerd Report: Endgame spoilers suck, NBA playoffs and more

ART BY JESUS RODRIGUEZ

Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio, Sports and Wrestling. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio show at www.nerdthugradio.com!

Hey Nerds!

Waking up to Wednesday guys! Let's get excited, we're half way through the week and I hope you're on pace to absolutely crush this week.

GOOD DEED OF THE DAY

This week we're going to focus on helping some people right in the circle of nerds, at the Spring Charity Drag Show. It's a themed drag show within Houston's nerd community and will feature pop culture, gaming and nerd icons as well as prominent drag queens in the "Gaymer" community. The proceeds go towards this group which all year long put on events for their community and give those people a place to go and be accepted.

PLAYOFFS?!, PLAYOFFS?!

Man do I love the NBA playoffs, they are the most exciting playoffs to me. I know some people may complain that a lot of years chalk carries through for the most part, which is fairly accurate but their journey to the finals every year is what is most impressive. This year we're basically two games in, with the Rockets playing their second game today, and already The Clippers had an amazing Game 2 come from behind victory over the defending champion Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs blew a 19 point lead as well. The Celtics, who all season long have been question marks look great and The Raptors looked like, well the playoff Raptors who are traditionally awful; think if every year your best friend always gave you the worst gift for Christmas, that's the playoff Raptors. Tonight the Rockets look to go up two games over the Utah Jazz, who have forever been the bane of playoff Rockets but I'm confident this year will be different.

AVENGERS ENDGAME FRUSTRATIONS

So apparently on the internet people have begun leaking Avengers Endgame information and that is my biggest pet peeve. Spoilers have become one of the worst things in the world. Who are these people who want to spoil the ending to what is essentially a ten year long story? Are these the same people who searched for hidden gifts during the Christmas season? I mean what is wrong with just waiting and being pleasantly surprised, just waiting the nine more days to find out what lies ahead? This is such a sad development for fans everywhere and now it's got me dodging all things Avengers related with a seriousness that I didn't think would be necessary.

MORE BAD NEWS

So speaking of disappointing news out of entertainment land, production seems to have stopped on Y: The Last Man's FX television adaptation. Based on an amazing comic book by Brian K Vaughn and Pia Guerra, Y: The Last Man was the story of a world where a mysterious plague has killed every man on the planet except one Yorrick Brown, literally the last man on Earth. It's an amazing comic book and if you can find it anywhere go out and buy it, it's a completed story from start to finish and it's in graphic novel format so it's one of the easier comic books to follow but it's a beautiful story with great moments and wonderful characters and I hope this mess gets cleared up. There was apparently a pilot made last year, FX liked it and approved it for a first season and just this week with production only a month in, the show runners disagreed with FX on what they were making, what kind of show it was and what it was about, so the showrunners quit. FX says they want to continue making the show but with new showrunners, so we'll see, but my fingers are truly crossed for this one because I loved Y: The Last Man.

THE INTERNET KEEPS BEING AMAZING AND AWFUL

In a bid to be both the worst and most amazing thing ever made the internet always just cuts both ways I feel like every time you see something great that could only happen with the internet, you then see some horrible story and you're like well, of course. It's like for every time there's a great go-fund me for some kid with cancer who then gets to announce he's cancer free and a millionaire then there's a story where a guy broadcasts on facebook live him beating up puppies or something, it seems like it never fails. So this week the same news story has the pleasure of being both, already in 2019 more stores have closed than in all of 2018 because of the internet. The downside is pretty obvious I feel like, it's one of those things where the internet kills jobs and big companies gobble other big companies but the positives are there too. For those not seeing it, it's simple, we're reaching points in the lifecycle of the internet where the idea of a Payless shoe store no longer makes sense, or a dollar store no longer make sense and that's a great thing as far as technology and innovation are concerned because now we can take these areas of the market to new unexplored corners, think about it, we've only been doing "shoe stores" one way for like 60 years and now we have an opportunity to completely redesign the thing from the ground up.

NOT THAT YOU ASKED

The DC Streaming service which I have been rather vocally critical of in its early stages is beginning to shift into a more logical place. In just the past few weeks they've made several changes and announcements that bring the service more inline with the value they were purporting to have this whole time. They have said that by the end of this month, the entire catalog of DC comics will be available to read on the streaming service and they finally have gotten onto one of the gaming platforms, they now have an app on Xbox One. One of the biggest and fairest complaints during this whole process was there wasn't a convenient way to watch the service except on phones and tablets and computers but not on, you know, your TV. They had a Roku channel but everyone has one of those and no one knows how Roku works it seems like, so we're back to square one, but in the same time Disney announced the details of their service this month, DC finally got on one of the three major gaming systems.

I'm going to jump out and wish you guys a great Wednesday and remind everyone to be kind to each other and try a little harder to have a great day! I'm coming back Friday and we'll be bringing more good times your way. Feel free to check out my digital short story The Wilson House, or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where every shirt is now under $20 or listen to Nerd Thug Radio or support our Patreon Page. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

Composite photo by Jack Brame

It's been four days since the Houston Rockets were eliminated from the playoffs at the hands of the Golden State Warriors and every take that can be said about the team has been said. From "fire the coach" to "trade everyone" or "player x can't win at the highest levels," every cliche trope ever given to a team after they've been eliminated from the playoffs has been said. There truly isn't anything new under the sun. However in a situation like this, it's best to take a step back, gain some perspective, and assess where to go from here.

After a devastating playoff loss, there's a temptation to tear apart the foundation that got you there in the first place and start from scratch. It's an understandable instinct. This is the second consecutive season the Rockets have been eliminated by the Warriors in the postseason and this time, the final game was without Kevin Durant. Last season, it was easy for Houston to hang their hat on "What if Chris Paul hadn't got hurt?" because it was a perfectly reasonable hypothetical.

This season, it's hard to look past dropping a Game 6 on your home floor without the other team's best player. It's obviously more complicated when discussing a Warriors team without Durant as the core four of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala still remain. Golden State generally plays with more pace, ball movement, and less isolation when Durant doesn't play. This doesn't mean they're a better basketball team, but it's hard to sell that core as an underdog given they've won without Durant before.

The fact remains that Houston was favored to win Game 6 by seven points and several opportunities to win the game were given to them, but ultimately squandered. The demons of this season, particularly defense and rebounding, poetically caused their postseason demise. The Rockets were an average defense (18th in the regular season) and porous defensive rebounding team all year and it came back to haunt them in Game 6 in the forms of Kevon Looney, Klay Thompson, and of course, Stephen Curry.

So the Rockets challenged the Warriors in a competitive series for the second year in a row and came up short. Where do they go from here as an organization?

It's tough, because even if Kevin Durant leaves Golden State in free agency this summer, the Warriors could still conceivably be a giant road block in Houston's pathway to a championship. With James Harden turning 30 years old this August and Chris Paul turning 34 years old earlier this month, Houston's title window feels like it's dwindling.

Although the Rockets have reportedly been given the green light to spend into the luxury tax this summer, the amount of flexibility Houston will have to upgrade the roster is limited. Houston will have their taxpayer mid-level exception to spend along with minimum contracts. Outside of that, the strongest pathway to upgrade the roster is via trade.

Again, the temptation is to be completely reactionary to the last series or game played. However, basing your decision making off of recency bias is imprudent and very unlike this front office. Starting with reigning MVP James Harden, the Rockets still have a ton of awesome salvageable pieces worth retaining and bringing into next season. A tear-down is a bit drastic just because a team fell short of defeating the reigning champions who also happen to be the greatest collection of talent ever amassed in NBA history.

Starting with coaching, Mike D'Antoni has helped establish a strong offensive identity that's been the bedrock for most of Houston's success over the last few seasons. Under D'Antoni, the Rockets have won 55, 52, and 65 games respectively in the regular season and forced the Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals. The Rockets have also been a top-two offense the entire time D'Antoni has been in Houston. It may be tempting to move away from D'Antoni in favor of a fresh face, but making a coaching change just for the sake of making a coaching change is not logical. It's improbable the Rockets find a coach worthy of being called an upgrade over D'Antoni. D'Antoni has also developed strong trust with the core players in the locker room including Harden and Paul, so making a change could be detrimental to team chemistry.

However you feel about him, James Harden is indisputably one of the best players in basketball today and it's unlikely that the Rockets find a player as good for a couple of decades. Harden's also locked under contract to Houston until 2021-22 with 2022-23 being a player option worth $46.8 million and has strong backing from the front office and ownership so it's unlikely he's headed anywhere anytime soon.

With Chris Paul, it's tricky. Is he going anywhere? No, Paul is under a 4-year, $159.7 million contract with Houston that expires in 2021-23. Paul's still an excellent player, but at age 34, he started to show his first signs of decline this season.

Chris Paul:

2017-18: 18.6 PPG, 7.9 APG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.7 SPG on 60.4% true shooting, 24.4 PER

2018-19: 15.6 PPG, 8.2 APG, 4.6 RPG, and 2.0 SPG on 56.0% true shooting, 19.7 PER

The Rockets can still probably squeeze one or two more good years out of Paul before he really starts to decline, but after that, his contract could look bleak really quickly.

There's probably an overreaction happening with Clint Capela right now. Capela came into this season slightly bulkier than he was last year causing a noticeable drop off in mobility and a dip in his numbers across the board. Capela, once the ultimate Swiss army knife (no pun intended) as a switch defender was now being targeted on switches by guards during the regular season. It forced Houston to completely change their defensive system from "switch everything" to "keep Capela near the basket".

This, along with Draymond Green's unbelievable defense, led to Capela being largely unplayable for large stretches during the playoffs this season.

Clint Capela playoffs per 36 minutes:

2017-18: 15.0 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 2.5 BPG, and 1.0 SPG on 64.2% true shooting, 24.1 PER

2018-19: 11.6 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 1.3 BPG, and 0.3 SPG on 54.9% true shooting, 15.7 PER

Capela underperformed this season as a whole, but his importance as a release valve for James Harden on offense is probably being overlooked. Harden thrives when he has a big man setting hard screens, rolling to the basket, leaking out on fast breaks, and finishing at the high clip Capela does. The Warriors may have taken him out of the series, but that's one series. Capela is due for a bounce-back season and while he may be interesting trade fodder, his importance to Houston's offense is understated.

Capela is also Houston's only young core piece, important when your core is comprised of 30+ year-old veterans who may struggle for energy at times.

James Harden, Chris Paul & Clint Capela 70 Pts 2018.02.23 Houston Rockets vs TWolves | FreeDawkins youtu.be

Fans rushing to drive Capela to the airport may want to slow it down like five notches. Capela is still really good and vital to Houston's success on both ends. James Harden's never had a better pick and roll partner and it will be very difficult to find a big man who can replace his production with the same willingness to fit into that role should Houston trade Capela.

Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker are also also players thought of as being interesting trade fodder going into the summer of 2019. Both were stellar in the postseason for their own unique ways.

Gordon provided Houston with solid floor spacing and efficient scoring (17.8 points per game on 60.4% true shooting). Tucker was incredible at hustling to grab key offensive rebounds and was tasked with guarding Kevin Durant for most of the series.

While both should provide good trade assets considering the values of their contract. There's also a strong possibility Houston brings both of them back. The Rockets have been rumored to want to extend Gordon the past couple years and this summer may provide a good opportunity for that. Both help Houston maintain a strong baseline of excellence.

The Rockets will not have their first round pick this year, but will be able to trade their next one after the draft should they choose to make a significant trade.

It's also worth noting that nobody can predict the future. The reasoning behind keeping the 'Lob City' Clippers together was because you never know when an injury or suspension breaks in your favor and allows you to sneak a championship like the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers. Daryl Morey and the Rockets have always been an aggressive, yet prudent front office group so it'll be interesting to see what kind of approach they take this summer.

However, you do get the vibe that there might be noticeable changes or attempts at upgrading the roster this summer after Game 6. Even James Harden alluded to some kind of foundational change during his post-game presser.

For fans of the team who feel like the sky is falling - there's no shame in bringing back most of the core players and taking another stab at competing again next year. Winning a championship in the NBA is really hard, and the Rockets are faced with the unique challenge of trying to do it at the same time as this Warriors dynasty.

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