The Houston Rockets have played well on offense this season, even though they’ve struggled to make shots. Once they really get going, could this team have the best offense ever put together?
The Houston Rockets haven’t had the best start to the season, losing three of their first seven games. The team’s defense needs a lot of work, as the Rockets are allowing opponents to shoot 48.9 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from the 3-point line, ranking last in the league in both categories.
However, James Harden and Russell Westbrook have already figured things out on offense because Houston hasn’t had much trouble scoring the ball. The Rockets rank sixth in offensive rating and are scoring 119.3 points per game, which ranks third in the league.
The Rockets are scoring all of these points even though many of their players are struggling to knock down shots. James Harden is shooting just 38.1 percent from the field and 25.3 percent from the 3-point line. Eric Gordon has been even worse, making just 27.8 percent of this shots from the field while shooting 23.3 percent from the 3-point line.
As a team, the Rockets are only shooting 42.7 percent from the field and 31.2 percent from deep, ranking fourth worst in the league in each category. Yet, despite such poor shooting numbers, offense seems to be the least of this team’s concerns.
Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey recently told The Athletic’s Kelly Iko (subscription required) that the Rockets have the potential to be the best offense ever.
“I really think we could be the best offense ever put on the floor. Now we’ll see if we can back that up, but our transition has been really good. Obviously, last year, we were one of the best halfcourt teams ever. There have been times where we’ve combined those two things and looked really good. Sometimes our transition has fallen off, sometimes our half-court (offense). But if we pull it together like I think we can, I think we’ll be the best offense in the league and a top-10 defense. That’ll be a formula to win the title.”
The last part of Morey’s quote sums up Houston’s plan in order to win a title: Finish the season as the best offense and one of the ten best defenses. The real question is if either of those goals are feasible.
From what we’ve seen so far, the Rockets certainly have the talent to be the best offense in the league this season. They’re sixth in offensive efficiency so far, despite the fact that some of their top offensive weapons have struggled to make shots.
The team’s defense is a different story. Judging from what we saw last season from Houston’s defense (ranked 17th in defensive efficiency) and from what we’ve seen so far this season, it’s hard to imagine the Rockets finishing the year as one of the 10 best defensive teams. Houston traded Chris Paul, who even at his age, finished first among point guards in defensive real plus-minus last season. Whereas Russell Westbrook finished just 24th in defensive real plus-minus.
Thabo Sefolosha was a good offseason pickup, but he isn’t the defender he once was. The same story applies to Tyson Chandler, who hasn’t played more than 15 minutes in a single game this season in his 19th year.
In summary, the Houston Rockets certainly have the offensive firepower to out score every team in the league, but it’s hard to imagine them turning it around and becoming one of the very best defensive teams in the NBA. Hopefully Morey’s vision for this team plays out on the court.