In the Harden era, the Rockets have generally been one of the fastest teams in the league. This year, however, that is not the case.
The Houston Rockets are holders of a 15-game winning streak, currently. Their latest victory was one of the best of the streak, a win against the tough Boston Celtics.
On this winning streak, there has been something different about the team. Yes, they’ve added new pieces and there have been some role player injuries, but it is something else. The team as a whole is playing at a much slower pace.
During the last 15 games, the Rockets have actually been playing at the slowest pace in the league. Yes, the league. Per NBA.com, Houston has a pace of 97.57, just ahead of teams like the Wizards and Kings.
Last season, the Rockets were third in the league in pace at 102.54. Overall this season, the Rockets are somewhere in the middle of their ratings from the last 15 games and last year at 100.25. They rank eleventh overall in that category right now, but they are dropping lower each and every game.
Why has the slower pace been successful?
Coming into the season, it was somewhat understood that the pace would be a little lower this year. Adding Chris Paul is the reason for that. Though he is one of the best playmakers in the league, CP3 does like to run the offense a little bit slower than what the Rockets have seen recently.
The slower pace has done wonders for the offense of the team. They are far more efficient when they look for better shots and have the best Offensive Rating (per Basketball-Reference) in the league.
When they’ve cranked down the pace even more over the last 15 games, the Rockets have been taking care of the ball much better. Over that stretch, the team is turning it over just 11 times a game, down from the season average of 14 last year’s average of 15.
James Harden is turning over the ball 4.3 times per game this season, far better than last year’s 5.7. Chris Paul has been his normal self, averaging just 2.3 turnovers per game. Taking care of the ball starts with the ballhandlers, and that’s just what they’re doing.
The team is also on pace to shoot more 3s than 2s, which is astonishing. Shooting even more 3s has allowed the Rockets to play at a slower pace while remaining successful. It also gives the appearance of the team playing faster than they actually are.
What do you think of the slower pace of the Rockets? Let us know in the comments below!
2013: Younger. Faster. Fearless.
2018: Older. Slower. Better. pic.twitter.com/Xtyn63jzOk
— Space City Scoop (@SpaceCity_Scoop) March 5, 2018
*All stats via Basketball-Reference and NBA.com*