2. The Houston Rockets need better defensive consistency
Though a couple of the preseason games were blowouts, the Rockets did not play elite teams and the situations were more so that the opposing teams were not hot offensively than that the Rockets were locked in defensively. To have the most successful season possible, the Rockets will need to improve on that end of the floor.
This is not necessarily to say that the Rockets looked disastrous on defense, only that they could clearly stand to improve in that area. This weakness is due to a few different factors.
One is that the team has several young players who have the energy on the defensive end, but lack the discipline required of a good defender. Though it will not be a quick fix, this can luckily solve itself with time, practice, and guidance from veteran members of the team.
It is not guaranteed that this will solve itself however, so the younger members of the team will need to have the right motivation and work ethic to improve defensively. Some players, such as Jae’Sean Tate and Sterling Brown have already shown potential, so there is reason to be optimistic about their development on that side of the ball.
Personnel changes also account for some of this, as the Rockets lost some high-level defenders in Robert Covington and Austin Rivers in the offseason. On this point, it is also worth noting that Christian Wood did not play for the first three of the four preseason games, so his consistent presence should help going forward.
Stephen Silas, like former head coach Mike D’Antoni, does not have a record of providing teams with elite defense as he does with offense. Fortunately, he has a strong coaching staff to consult on how this team can improve on the defensive side of the ball.
Again, perhaps the Rockets can acquire some defensive assets in a trade for Harden. If Ben Simmons is the main target as has been discussed by the fanbase, they will certainly receive a significant upgrade on that end of the floor.
There are pathways the Rockets can take to increasing their defensive productivity, but the preseason demonstrated that side of the ball as being a second area where the team could clearly use some improvement.
The past few years have seen the Rockets engaging in some interesting and radical offseasons. Perhaps no offseason provided fans with more questions about how the team will look than this one, a theme that is bitterly fitting with that wild year that has been 2020.
Fortunately for Houston Rockets fans, the preseason provided many answers that give substantial reason to be optimistic about the future of the team. It should be a fun season to watch in H-Town, and if the Rockets can make improvements in these two areas of the game it will be even more enjoyable.
The Rockets make their regular-season debut at home on December 23rd against the Oklahoma City Thunder, 7:00 PM Central Time.