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Analyzing the Houston Rockets’ defensive changes

N.B. Lindberg
Houston Rockets v Utah Jazz
Houston Rockets v Utah Jazz / Chris Gardner/GettyImages
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Can we draw any conclusions from the Rockets’ early defensive metrics?

The Rockets’ defense still stinks, but it looks like it has improved marginally, although it would be hard not to improve on essentially the worst defense in the league. Overall, they’re forcing more turnovers, snagging more defensive rebounds compared to the league, and have improved dramatically at not sending teams to the free throw line. 

While they’ve struggled at preventing opponents’ shots from hitting, they have improved their defensive shot diet. Teams are just hitting an absurd rate of their shots 3-to-10 feet from the rim. Last season, the worst opponent field goal percentage on shots 3-to-10 feet was 48.3%, so it’s unlikely that the Rockets will continue to allow teams to shoot 50.4% in that range. 

Another early season statistical outlier is the Rockets' opponent corner 3-point shooting. Teams have hit a scorching 47.5% of their corner threes against the Rockets. That won’t continue, and when it normalizes, the Rockets should see their overall opponent 3-point shooting decrease from 37.6% toward the league average of 35.8%. 

Next. Analyzing the changes in the Houston Rockets' offense. dark

The Rockets’ will likely have a bottom-ten offense come season end, but there’s a good chance it’s closer to the 20th-ranked defense and not the 30th. The additions of Jabari Smith Jr. and Tari Eason have given the Rockets more defensive firepower, and the continued development of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr has helped. How high the defense can go may come down to the coaching staff’s willingness to suppress Alperen Sengun’s minutes for more Usman Garuba and Bruno Fernando.

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