The Rockets are hanging onto the 8th seed by a single game, but as we saw last night in their 140 point (yes 140 points in 48 minutes) effort against the Warriors, this team is possibly the most explosive offensive team in the league. In this Southwest Division roundup, let’s take a look at the Rockets chances moving forward.
|Harden and the Rockets were raining threes last night
While I don’t want to harp on what they did last night, as it is only a single game, let me start out by sharing a few quick statistics from that game. First off, the tied the all time NBA record with 23 three point field goals as a team. They did this in a whopping 40 attempts for a 57.5% clip. They had 34 assists as a team on 46 field goals, with 3 players having 7 or more. As would b expected but it still fun to see on a boxscore, they had 8 players in double figures with another at a “lowly” 9 points. Jeremy Lin may have had is best game of the year scoring 28 and dishing out 9 dimes, but most remarkably, having a +37 points while he was on the floor.
Okay so again, last night was only one game, but it shows us how many weapons this team does have. They have their star and franchise player in James Harden, the have an elite rebounding big man with quality touch around the basket offensively in Omer Asik, and they have a bunch of good core guys. What is this team missing? They are missing that second star, the player who could take the game over for stretches so that the franchise guy doesn’t always have that burden. The team has the pieces to go out and acquire a player like Josh Smith or Al Jefferson/Paul Milsap, but really would it be worth it to ship out this young talent? I Think not, at least not yet. With players like Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson, and Jeremy Lin, players who will never be stars, but are very good pieces for a team to have, they have a strong core. Then they have the prospects, players that have sky high potential. Marcus Morris has the shooting ability and athleticism to be a really good forward in the league. He doesn’t project as a potential star either, but a player who can really fill up a boxscore. Then there is the very raw Dontas Motiejunas, who could be both a complete bust or a star. He has the shooting ability from outside to stretch the floor and the length to be a factor in the interior, but he needs to add a lot of muscle to his body and work on his isolation game and defense. I think the right thing for the Rockets to do would would be to let these young players develop one more offseason and then evaluate who they can go after. Even with a trade this year I’m not convinced they would be championship contenders just yet.
Looking at this season, I think the Rockets have a tough road in holding onto the number eight seed. In looking at their next 7 opponents: Miami, Portland, Sacramento, Golden State, LAC, OKC, and Brooklyn, they will have their hands full. The tilt against Portland on Friday will be enormous as Portland is the team one game behind the Rockets. Also looking up at the Rockets in the Division is the ever dangerous Lakers. So what you want, but that team could click at any time and become a real contender. They are only 3.5 games back of the Rockets. The Rockets have equal amount of home and away games remaining.
The real difference maker for the Rockets will be whether or not Jeremy Lin can play at a high level going forward. They need someone else who can excel in the isolation game handling the rock and creating shots not just for themselves but for their teammates too. This team has one of the brightest futures of any in the League, but just be patient fans in Clutch City, it won’t happen this year. The could be real contenders as early as next year though as they are just one piece away.