3 areas the Rockets will improve without James Harden

Christian Wood #35 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Christian Wood #35 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
John Wall #1 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

3. Ball movement and player movement

The Rockets have been known for a lot of things during the Harden era. At times, a championship contender that breaks 3-point records every year, but never a team that is known for ball movement and player movement. It’s a curse and blessing because when you have one of the greatest offensive players in history, you build your team and philosophy around that player’s strength.

As we all know, Harden is the league’s best isolation player but is not known for coming off screens or making hard back door cuts to catch the defense off guard. At times Harden can be aloof when the ball is not in his hands and, by design or not, is rarely involved off the ball. On Thursday night we got a glimpse of how the offense could look going forward, even with two possible three major players missing.


The Rockets moved without the ball and made quick passes all game long. Even P.J. Tucker, who rarely dribbles during the game, ran several plays where he made quick decisions by dribbling into the paint and handing it off to a curling teammate, who kick-started the offensive set.

The Rockets, if not anything else, will be a team that thrives on player movement and ball movement instead of isolation plays on most possessions.

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