Houston Rockets, Daily Rockets Science: Chemistry and Perception

Oct 28, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Jeremy Lin (17) drives against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 28, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Jeremy Lin (17) drives against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /

Today’s Daily Rocket Science finds Houston Rockets’ James Harden and Mike D’Antoni still the focus of news media with insight on perception and chemistry. Specifically, with Harden’s regression in pundits minds and the external view of H-Town being an undesirable location, how much can D’Antoni assuage the perceptions in the mainstream to lure  Jeremy Lin and other free agents to H-town?

Let’s kick off the Daily Rocket Science with a look back in history. It was 21 years ago today the Knicks played their first finals game and the opponent was the Houston Rockets:

"Knicks play their first NBA Finals game in 21 years, falling to the Rockets in Houston 85-78. The teams combine for 63 second-half points, which marked an all-time NBA Finals low for a half. (1994)"

Moving from teams to coaches the other natural tie which now exists between the Rockets and Knicks is their new head coach.

Matt Young of the Houston Chronicle offered an interesting pictorial look back at Houston Rockets ranking head coaches over the years:


Rudy Tomjanovich, Rockets (1992-2003)

After biding his time with nine seasons as a Rockets assistant coach, Tomjanovich was named interim coach when Don Chaney resigned in February 1992. Rudy T. went 16-14 that season and nearly got the Rockets into the playoffs. For that effort, he was rewarded with the full-time job and led the Rockets to the Midwest Division title the next year. He followed that up with the city’s crowning sporting achievement – back-to-back NBA titles in 1994 and ’95.

Looking back on the season many bloggers and pundits are still contemplating the shaft to James Harden not making any of the All NBA Teams. Aaron Mah of Hoops Habit dives in to expose a compelling stat in his argument for why Harden is still a top 15 player:

Twenty-nine points, six rebounds and seven assists per game.

Over the course of NBA history, there have been exactly four men who’s been able to average those numbers through the entirety of a full 82-game season: Michael Jordan (who did it once in 1988-89), LeBron James (who did twice), Oscar Robertson (who did it seven times) and James Harden (who did it this season).

With Harden taking a big hit in the minds of many analysts and in social media I wonder how much damage that has created for free agency. SCS opined Jeremy Lin seemed like a natural free agent to target given his familiarity with both D’Antoni and with many Rockets players still on the team.

With Jeremy Lin officially opting out of his contract he becomes a free agent and Ric Bucher of nba.com and Bleacher Report is saying the Houston Rockets and D’Antoni have the inside track:

"“Last time around the fit wasn’t exactly ideal with James Harden. There’s no hard feelings between the two it simply wasn’t a great fit with Kevin McHale as the head coach there.  But D’Antoni has the ability to convince Lin that under his system that both of them can get everything that they want…. Again the familiarity and the relationship already built could go a long way.”"

More from Space City Scoop

In closing, the view of Harden as a ball hog who doesn’t present the ideal situation for players to excel in is a real thing. In my weekly Tamberlyn’s Tip Off podcast I spoke to former player and TV analyst Leo Rautins.

He used Houston as the example for a team that is full of talent, but one where the players look like they don’t want to be on the court together or haven’t developed chemistry.  Notably, he also discusses the changes in the NBA from his playing days and speaks to the effect of Muhammad Ali to both the NBA and the world in general.

Exciting show today w/very special guest @LeoRautins we discuss #NBAFinals #Raptors & CDN BBall #ALLINnetwork https://t.co/jNc3eDxeSr

— Tamberlyn's Tip-Off (@TTOTambz) June 6, 2016

For Rockets Nation, let’s hope this perception isn’t wide spread to the point players are averse to heading to Houston. Certainly the up tempo offense of Mike D’Antoni should offset some reservations. For now it’s wait and see mode as the next two months gear up for the draft and free agency.

That’s it for today’s Daily Rocket Science, make sure you check out the current Space City Scoop series including our year end player analysis, draft prospects worthy of Rockets picking or trading for, our best of reader/fan posts  and our end of season Rockets Round Table:

Next: Complete list of 2016 -2017 Free Agents

Next: Rockets Fans Speak - the Series

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