Houston Rockets: Hot November leads to No. 1 spot in ESPN Power Rankings

Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images /

With a 12-1 record in the month of November, The Rockets have propelled to No.1 in the ESPN Power Rankings.

What a November it was for the Houston Rockets (18-4). Houston began the month by winning six in a row, and ended it with the return of Chris Paul to go along with a 7-0 record. Along the way, the Rockets built a formidable offense to complement a stout defense, all while James Harden lit the league up.

Overall, Harden has had a another historic start to a season. His stat line? Impressive.

James Harden‘s November stats:

31.7 points, 9.7 assists, 5.1 rebounds per game on 45.8% shooting (40.5% from three).

Indeed, Harden is balling out of his mind right now. With his play, the rest of the squad has followed his lead and now the Rockets sit on top of the Western Conference. However, this has been achieved by a combination of other factors also. For starters, the Rockets, outside of the CP3 injury, have mostly avoided the dreaded injury bug. In fact the only Rocket to miss significant time is Paul.

While Nene and Trevor Ariza have missed a few games, the Rockets have remained intact and are playing some great team basketball. The defense looks solid compared to years past and Houston may have the most lethal offense in the league.

November also saw the growth and development of Clint Capela. While his offensive has improved overall, it is his rim protection and free throw making that has really helped. Yes, 65.6 percent is not amazing, but it is an improvement from last year. And he looks confident at the line now. Also, let’s not forget his insane 66.1 percent field goal percentage. The benefits of having lob masters Harden and CP3.

James Harden,
James Harden, /

As the month of December now gets rolling, the Rockets are top 5 in three important categories. They are as follows:

Net Rating:

No. 2 at 11.5 behind Golden State.

Offensive Rating:

No. 2 at 112.4 behind Golden State.

Defensive Rating:

No. 5 at 100.9 behind the Trail Blazers, Thunder, Spurs, and Celtics.

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With that in mind, remember this. The Rockets are the only team to be ranked top 5 in offensive and defensive rating this season. So far, Mike D’Antoni has to be proud. Not to mention, his game management of his two floor generals has been superb. Houston has made the relationship look easy between Paul and Harden. So flawless, that it must be stressful to try and defend this team.

Any lineup the Rockets throw out there will contain either Harden, or Paul, or both at once. With Harden doing most of the scoring, it is CP3 who leads the team in assists at 9.8 per game.

So far, its a red hot start for the Rockets. Offseason acquisitions Luc Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker have really added some depth and toughness that this team has lacked in the past. Their presence on defense and their ability to shoot the three make this team even deadlier. And don’t forget about the D’Antoni small ball lineup that causes even more problems for opposing teams.

Here’s to an even better December for these Rockets! Hopefully they continue to get even better as the season starts to intensify.

Next: 5 matchups to watch in December

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