2. Small Ball
Let’s tackle the idea of “small ball” the Rockets have gone to. They have essentially decided to go with the trend of position-less basketball, which has unconventionally put Westbrook at center. The Rockets are banking on their ability to utilize their five best athletes to run the other team into the ground for 48 minutes straight.
In their recent victory over the Utah Jazz, the Jazz played center Rudy Gobert for 34 minutes and the Jazz were outscored by 12 points when he was on the floor. During Wednesday night’s victory over the Grizzlies, Memphis played center Jonas Valanciunas for 23 minutes and they were outscored by seven points when he was on the floor.
It has become clear over the last few weeks that it’s nearly impossible for teams to play their big men. This is because they simply can’t cover a perimeter player for an extended period of time.
One underrated aspect of this team is the fact that Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets front office were able to completely change the philosophy of the roster midseason. They moved from a team with a traditional big man to a team that plays without a center.
Please think of a team that has successfully undergone such a drastic philosophical shift mid-season. Spoiler: it hasn’t happened.
Next: No. 1