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Reasons for optimism: Why there is still hope for the Houston Rockets

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 13: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets plays the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on November 13, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 13: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets plays the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on November 13, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets have vastly under-performed to begin the 2018-19 regular season, but there is still hope for the Rockets this season and here’s why.

The Houston Rockets are currently 9-11, putting them in 14th place in the Western Conference 20 games into the season. They are only 5.5 games behind the first place Los Angeles Clippers, however.

They have been the embodiment of inconsistency as they have had a season of losing streaks and winning streaks.

Though 9-11 is bad; when the record is looked at more closely, a big reason why Houston is struggling is that they have not had their starting backcourt of Chris Paul and James Harden for 40% of the season.

The stars have been out

James Harden and Chris Paul have missed a combined total of eight games out of twenty and are 1-7 in those eight games.

In the 12 games where both Paul and Harden have played, Houston is 8-4, and have had impressive wins come against the best teams in the west like Denver and Golden State.

To add to the inconsistency, the Rockets bench has been abysmal as they are currently dead last in the league in points per game at 25.8 which is six points behind the second-worst team, which surprisingly is Golden State.

A big cause behind Houston’s bench struggles is because Eric Gordon, who has had a very inconsistent season himself, has been forced to move into the starting lineup leaving the bench without a scoring threat.

Brandon Knight

The reason Houston has hope is that Brandon Knight is expected to be ready to play soon as he has been assigned to the G-League to have a few rehab games for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (@ShamsCharania).

Though Knight is not known for his defense, he is known for his offense as he has averaged 15.2 points per game on 41.5% shooting for his career.

Knight will be returning from a serious ACL injury and will need time to get acclimated to playing basketball at an NBA level again and will also need to adjust to a new Rockets system.

With Nene also set to return soon, giving the Rockets a much-needed veteran big-man presence, and Chris Paul likely to return tonight against San Antonio, Eric Gordon would return to the bench.

Gordon’s return to the bench for Houston will also help take off the pressure on Brandon Knight when he makes his debut for Houston and would allow Knight to ease into playing with the Rockets and provide depth, which Houston is desperate for.

Next. Can the Rockets beat the Spurs?

Tonight’s game against San Antonio is very important as Houston has already lost to the Spurs once this season and they are still winless in the division at 0-3.

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