How the Rockets will benefit from an extended break

Houston Rockets Ausin Rivers James Harden Eric Gordon (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Ausin Rivers James Harden Eric Gordon (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

With the NBA currently on a mandatory hiatus due to the Coronavirus, here’s why the extended break comes at a perfect time for the Houston Rockets.

As we all know by now, the NBA has been temporarily suspended, due to the growing concerns of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Although it’s impossible imagine life without basketball, there are benefits of such an extended break for the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets have dealt with their share of injuries this season, and will need everyone healthy heading into the playoffs, especially Eric Gordon. Over the course of Gordon’s tenure in Houston, he’s proven himself capable of being the third-leading scorer for the Rockets, and this year has been no different.

The difference is that Gordon has battled health injuries this season, as he’s only played in 53 percent of the Rockets’ games this year, which is the lowest of his Rockets’ tenure. This explains why we’ve seen Gordon struggle so mightily, as his shooting has been abysmal and he’s generally moved a lot slower than we’re accustomed to seeing him move.

It’s obvious that he’s been battling injuries, and was trying to play through them, which wasn’t the right call for the Rockets. Gordon is averaging 14.5 points on 31.9 percent from 3-point range, which are both the lowest he’s fared through his four years in Houston.

If the Rockets are going to make a run in the postseason, they’ll need Gordon to be at or near full health, and an extended break can ensure just that. On top of that, we’ve also seen James Harden struggle of late, as he too appeared to injure his wrist during the Rockets’ most recent game against the Boston Celtics.

Granted, we can’t play doctor and Harden has never been the type to pinpoint an injury as the reason for his poor shooting, but the numbers speak for themselves. Harden has only made 22.9 percent of his triples since suffering the injury, as it’s been clear something has been off in his shooting.

By comparison, Harden has made 36.3 percent of the rest of his 3-pointers this season, which shows the stark difference in the 5.5 games following his injury. With the Rockets in line for an extended absence, this could allow Harden time to heal his wrist, and revert back to the unguardable Harden we saw during the 2018-19 season, who seemingly made every 3-pointer he attempted.

Obviously that’s an exaggeration, but it seemed like Harden made every big shot during his historical stretch and leading into the postseason. On a lesser note, Rockets reserve Ben McLemore has battled gastroenteritis recently, which forced him to miss the Rockets’ matchup against the Orlando Magic, in which they were dominated from start to finish, which resulted in a 126-106 home loss.

But even before that, McLemore hasn’t been able to stay on the floor for 20 minutes dating back to the Rockets’ game against the Memphis Grizzlies, which is a total of five games. Granted, we can’t necessarily pin this all to the gastroenteritis he’s had, but it’s noteworthy that he’s gone 35.7 percent from deep during that stretch. Although that’s not necessarily bad, when you compare it to the 39.6 percent he’s made on his other 3-pointers, it’s easy to question whether this has been plaguing him.

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At the end of the day, the COVID-19 is a serious issue, which has caused an uptick in the number of cases day-to-day. But the Houston Rockets could benefit from such an extended break, as it could allow them to get healthy heading into the postseason.

For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.