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These advanced stats tell an optimistic story about the Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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Despite shooting struggles to start the season, the Houston Rockets’ starting lineup has been one of the best in the NBA.

The Houston Rockets scored a franchise-record 159 points in a win over the Wizards. They also had a game where they were down by 40 points in the first half. Sometimes, looking on the surface doesn’t always give you the best view when it comes to sports. If you look deeper into the Rockets’ season you will see that they are not too far off from being a top-tier team again.

When you think about advanced stats and analytics, the Houston Rockets are the one organization that comes to mind. These advanced stats tell the real story of how the season is going so far. (Note stats based on a minimum four games played and at least 48 minutes together on the court)

Team Defensive Rating

A common critique of the Houston Rockets this season has been their defense. Houston has given up at least 60 points in the first half in most of their games so far, but there are signs that it will get better. The lineup of Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Danuel House, P.J. Tucker, and Clint Capela, the Houston Rockets are number one in defensive rating at 90.3!

This lineup has played in six games together and 83 minutes total so far, which is a decent sample size. The next closest is the Nuggets who are almost a full point higher. Its early in the season but there is a good chance that this will be the starting lineup more nights than not. The team’s overall defensive rating is 113.1. What this tells you is how bad the bench has been for the Rockets. Eric Gordon has started a few games but he is better suited coming off the bench. Gordon has struggled mightily to start the season and if he can pick it up it will help the overall numbers as well. Once the bench gets its act together, the Rockets have a chance to be a much-improved defensive team than what we have seen so far.

Team Offensive Rating

The Rockets’ 3-point shooting has been absolutely dismal. Through the first eight games, they are 24th in the league at 33 percent shooting and their overall field goal percentage is not much better at 43.6 percent, which is 23rd in the league.

Yes, the shooting needs to improve but the Rockets are second in pace, first in 3-point attempts and just outside of the top 10 in true shooting percentage. Even though the Rockets have struggled to make shots, the team’s offense is still quite efficient due the amount of 3’s and are throws the team makes.

With a starting lineup that includes House instead of Gordon, the Rockets rank fourth in offensive rating at 117.6. With improved numbers from the bench, the Rockets could have another historically good offense as the season goes on. The narrative that Harden and Westbrook’s cant coexist doesn’t match up to the numbers.

Team Net Rating

Net rating is the difference between a player’s offensive rating and defensive rating. The Rockets’ starters rank first in team net rating at 27.4 a game. That is a full point higher than the second-place team.

This is a small sample size and this number will likely come down, but it is a good indicator of how good the starters have been playing so far this season and how much the bench needs to step it up.

Team effort highlights player grades from Rockets’ victory over Warriors. Next

Most people only look at the usual stats like points per game, 3-point percentage and field goal percentage, but there is more to an NBA team than that. If you look deep into the numbers, the Houston Rockets’ starters have been one of the best starting lineups this year. With help from the “others” on the team, the Rockets will be near the top of the league before the calendar turns to 2020.

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