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Time isn't on your side (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday December 7, 2005 3:50PM; Updated: Wednesday December 7, 2005 3:50PM
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By Roland Beech, 82games.com, Special to SI.com

The manner in which Jason Williams runs the Heat may not please Gary Payton, but it has been pleasing to Miami's won-lost record.
The manner in which Jason Williams runs the Heat may not please Gary Payton, but it has been pleasing to Miami's won-lost record.
Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Dwane Casey has the potential to be an excellent coach in the long term. As one of the growing number of NBA insiders utilizing sophisticated stats, it seems he's already picked up on this "dynamic duo" as Griffin has played 24, 30 and 23 minutes in his last three games after averaging just 17 before that.

Houston Rockets

Jeff Van Gundy has undoubtedly solid credentials, yet while trying to deal with Tracy McGrady's injury problems, his determination to use 32-year-old Juwan Howard over the newly signed 25-year-old "upside bonanza" Stromile Swift is somewhat mystifying. Howard is coming off an '04-05 season in which the Rockets were five points worse per 48 minutes with him on court; this season that number stands at 16 points worse!

Again, we can learn a lot from how certain players work with a team's main man. In the Rockets' case, that man is Yao Ming, since T-Mac has played limited minutes this season). And this season ...

Yao/Howard: -31 (7-10 game by game plus-minus won-loss record)
Yao/Swift: +37 (12-4)

In '04-05, when Yao played with Howard the Rockets were only +12 in 1,067 minutes, a far cry from the +119 in 1,389 minutes Yao was on court without him. Simply put, the Rockets would be wise to play Swift over Howard.

The silver lining for Howard is that he does play well with McGrady, so the Rockets might consider using him heavily off the bench as part of the five-man unit when Yao needs to take a breather.

Dallas Mavericks

One of the more surprising stories emerging this season is the sudden appearance of DeSagana Diop as a bona fide NBA player. Diop had been written off by the Cavs after several seasons of barely leaving the bench, but he's found a home in Dallas, where the Mavs are now +91 in net points with him on the floor. This stands in contrast to Erick Dampier, with whom the team is -19 when he's on the court, as opposed to +106 with him on the bench.

Moreover, in looking at how each plays with superstar Dirk Nowitzki:

Nowitzki/Diop: +02 in 193 minutes (+22 per 48 minutes!)
Nowitzki/Dampier: -1 in 376 minutes

Expect Diop to see even more minutes as this season continues.