The Houston Rockets finished week one of the season with a 2-1 record taking the home and home series versus the Mavericks. Week 2 features the start of a 5-game road trip.
In a week that saw the Houston Rockets open the season with a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers it’s likely most pundits won’t have the team in their top tens. In spite of that loss the Rockets did beat the Mavericks in back to back games to get back on track.
Can the Houston Rockets find their defense to move up the rankings in week 2? Much will depend on how the Rockets game travels as they embark on their first major road trip of the season. For now let’s see where the pundits ranked them after 3 games and the first week of the season.
NBA writer John Schuhmann is best known for finding hidden stats to decipher teams’ weaknesses and strengths. So, while some may not agree, I tend to seek out his rankings first at the start of each week to get his spin on how teams are performing. He ranks the Rockets in the middle of the pack at 15.
Even when James Harden isn’t shooting well, he gets himself to the line, as he did when the Rockets had only 4.1 seconds to escape with a second straight win over the Dirk-less Mavs on Sunday. Trevor Ariza is the only one of Harden’s targets that has shot particularly well, so Mike D’Antoni’s wish to see his point guard double his assist average might not come true. Houston’s starting lineup has been unexpectedly solid defensively (allowing only 89 points per 100 possessions) so far, though that may change with Tuesday’s visit to Cleveland.
Marc Stein gives the Rockets a little more leeway ranking them 13th.
At the tail end of week when Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant square off as opponents for the first time, followed by Derrick Rose playing in Chicago as a Knick for the first time, we’ll have to see how much oxygen is left for Dwight Howard’s maiden showdown with visiting James Harden & Co. on Saturday night. Houston’s focus, of course, is grinding through 14 of its first 20 games on the road, as well nursing Patrick Beverley to the earlier-than-expected return he’s predicting.
Matt Moore and I often were on the same page last season in terms of where we ranked teams and more so how we viewed each teams potential. To wit, I’ve said these Rockets are better defensively than they’ve been given credit for (that is except Ryan Anderson who is a bigger defensive liability than most of us thought he would be). Moore also ranks the Rockets at 13.
This Rockets team is nuts to watch, but the surprising thing from their first week has been a surprisingly solid defense. They look like they’ve bought in, and any team that actually buys into what Mike D’Antoni sells is dangerous.
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Jeremy Woo of SI.com hasn’t put up his first week rankings yet so I offer you his preseason listing for the Houston Rockets which ranks them 15th.
Last season: 41–41, lost in first round
Final Ranking: 17
Philosophically, Mike D’Antoni and James Harden are a perfect match. Bank on offensive fireworks, maybe not a ton else. League Pass!
While the pundits are all in general agreement ranking the Rockets in the middle of the pack it’s important to note it’s just the first week of play. To that end, several teams will benefit from schedule perks like the Chicago Bulls who faced 2 teams on back to backs. A truer test of a teams mettle will be easier to compare to another team after 20 games. Until then the rankings are sure to see plenty of shifts particularly in the middle of the pack.
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