The Houston Rockets, with two games to go, have clinched the worst record in the league. The franchise’s first season without James Harden and Daryl Morey, the linchpins of their eight consecutive postseason appearances from 2013 to 2020, has been the NBA equivalent of A Series of Unfortunate Events.
The season went from bad to worse at just about every juncture as injuries, ineffectiveness, and injustices derailed even the faintest attempts to be a competent team. Four players will play more than 1200 minutes, in a season of 3456 non-overtime minutes, and only two players will surpass 50 games played.
The Rockets were hit incredibly hard by the availability bug this season, which makes it difficult to discern who were their best and worst players. However, every team, no matter the record, has a best player.
How to evaluate the five best Houston Rockets
To determine who were the best five Rockets an arbitrary playing time cutoff had to be made, so only players that managed 600 minutes with the Rockets made the cut. This total of 12 players includes the likes of Victor Oladipo, Kevin Porter Jr, and Kelly Olynyk but sheds the 17 other players who suited up for the Rockets this season.
From this group of 12, I took their net plus/minus, total win shares, player efficiency rating, win shares per 48 minutes, box score plus/minus, and value over replacement player and calculated each player’s Z-score in the category before adding that total up to determine who has performed the best this season compared to their peers. This cohort of statistics, outside of win shares and value over replacement player, is hardly influenced by court time so this best captures who on a per-minute basis has performed best for the Rockets.
The not-so-honorable mentions or the players who finished twelfth through sixth are; P.J. Tucker (12th), Kevin Porter (11th), Danuel House (10th), Victor Oladipo (9th), John Wall (8th), Sterling Brown (7th), and Eric Gordon (6th). The two surprises on this list are John Wall and Kevin Porter Jr but their solid points per game averages of 20.6 for Wall and 16.6 for Porter are largely to the detriment of the team because of their poor shooting efficiency.
Let’s not get too caught up in the weeds over the minutiae of the ranking system, it’s as scientific as I care to make it, and let’s get to the top five Houston Rockets from the 2020-21 season.