After yet another loss, it may be time for the Rockets to throw in the towel for the season.
I’m here to address a scary thought: tanking. The word has such a negative connotation, and the practice is generally looked down upon by the league and its fans. The sport is dishonored by professional teams looking to lose games and nobody wants to watch a matchup between two teams when only one if them is trying. I tend to admire teams like the Dallas Mavericks that choose to give it all they’ve got despite having a team that, without Dirk Nowitzki, would be destined for a season similar to the likes of the Philadelphia 76ers.
However, the strategy has proven to be effective to an extent. We all know the Houston Rockets aren’t going to win a championship this year, so why even go for a playoff spot when there are better draft positions to shoot for? It’s an intriguing and sad question, but it’s what we’re going to be looking at for today’s Daily Rocket Science.
Houston Rockets news and notes from around the web
To answer the tanking question more thoroughly, I’ll point you to Space City Scoop’s newest addition to the writing team, Quoc Thai. His first article deals with the possibility of tanking and whether Houston should consider it as well as the possible outcomes for each situation. I won’t spoil the surprise, but he gives a very definitive answer to the question.
If the Rockets do not have a lottery pick, they will lose the pick. While second round picks could get you some nice players such as Montrezl Harrell (32th 2015) or Shelvin Mack (34th 2011), it cannot be counted on, unless the pick turned out to be an absolute steal like Paul Millsap (47th, 2006), Draymond Green (35th 2012) or Isaiah Thomas(60th 2011).
What would you rather see, a sweep by the Thunder or a promising young player that would fill some of the Rockets’ need?
To back up Thai’s point that the Rockets would perform badly in the playoffs, Jake Hyman of RealGM.com proves that James Harden’s overuse has become one of the team’s biggest blights. Leading the league in minutes played for the second consecutive season, the guy is just going to be too tired and worn out by the postseason to carry the team as much as he has the past two seasons. Maybe he could use some help on the offensive end next year?
"But what if Harden could operate in a more natural, less voluminous realm of a scorer? Harden’s usage has increased from 27.7 in 13-14 to 31.3 last season and up to 32.7 this season. Those totals occur while in his final season with the Magic was 26.2 and then hit 24.1 in 13-14, 23.3 in 14-15 and down to 18.8 this season ( ). The Rockets were expecting Harden and Howard to be co-stars but the latter has the offensive usage of a role player. Howard’s usage 15.8 in March"
More from Space City Scoop
- Why Tad Brown is the Rockets’ biggest loss to date
- Rockets legend in awe over Stephen Curry’s level of play
- Rockets fiasco shows importance of Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook
- Houston Rockets: Evan Mobley worth a look at No. 2 in NBA Draft
- Houston Rockets: Ranking the top-five 2021 NBA draft prospects
So, will the Rockets tank? They’ve got few enough games left to count them on your fingers, and lots will be said over the next couple of weeks by how the team decides to play. Matt Moore of CBS Sports is one person who doesn’t count the Rockets out of another deep postseason run. The odds are obviously stacked against them, but Houston actually sits in a favorable position when compared to the other teams that are vying for those last few playoff spots. They have an easier schedule and aren’t dealing with as many injuries as other teams (cough cough Memphis Grizzlies). The likelihood that they can actually make the playoffs if they try to is pretty good, but it’s just a decision on whether or not they actually want to play postseason basketball.
"More importantly? Notice that defensive number. They are 10th in defense in March. That’s huge. That’s been their Achilles heel this season, in execution and design. Defense was what led them to the 2-seed last season, paving the route to a Western Conference Finals appearance. It was really the playoffs when their defense tailed off and they started to really struggle, despite reaching the WCF. If they can get back to that defense-first mentality, they can make a run."
The Rockets continue their march towards mediocrity with a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers tomorrow night on national television. That’ll be a tough game to win, but there’s a good chance that Lebron James will be resting that night (which should arguably make it easier to win, but nothing about the Rockets makes sense this year so who even knows?). Whatever happens will happen quickly, and there’s a good chance that this nightmare of a season will be over before we know it.
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