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Should you “Buy or Sell” the Houston Rockets' preseason success?

N.B. Lindberg
Houston Rockets v Indiana Pacers
Houston Rockets v Indiana Pacers / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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The Houston Rockets enter the 2022-23 season riding high. The team just signed Kevin Porter Jr. to a four-year extension and blitzed opponents to a 3-1 record in the preseason. After two consecutive seasons with the fewest wins in the association, the Rockets look like they might finally have ignition in the standings. 

Preseason is the ultimate Rorschach test. It can mean whatever the viewer wants it to mean. However, numbers never lie, and the Rockets posted some mighty impressive digits as they blitzed the opposition. 

The numbers behind the Rockets’ excellent preseason

The Rockets were the third most prolific offense at 120.5 points per game on the strength of 48.1% shooting, also third, and 41.9% 3-point shooting, the best mark in preseason. Overall, their 56.6% effective field goal percentage, the best indicator of offensive success, was the fourth best mark. 

The Rockets also blitzed the offensive glass. Their 37.1% offensive rebounding rate was the best in the preseason, and 3.3% better than the Sacramento Kings in second. Stellar offensive rebounding can overcome poor shooting and significantly boost offense. The Grizzlies, Raptors, and Pelicans were one, two, and three in offensive rebounding, but were 23, 24, and 27 in effective field goal percentage. The Grizzlies end the season with the 5th best offensive rating, the Raptors came in at 14, and the Pelicans at 19. 

On defense, the Rockets weren’t quite as prolific, holding opponents to 107 points per game, the 12th best mark. However, they did hold opponents to the third lowest field goal percentage (40.8%) and the fifth lowest 3-point shooting (29.2%). 

The net result saw the Rockets outscore opponents by +13.5 points per game and an 11.6 net rating. Needless to say, if the Rockets were to carry their preseason dominance over to the regular season they’d produce one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. The single highest full season margin of victory was the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers’ +12.28, who won an NBA record 33 consecutive games and whose 69 victories stood as the single winnest season for 24 seasons.

Before Rockets fans start planning their championship parade, there are a few numbers that suggest the Rockets’ preseason wasn’t quite as exceptional as the results. 

Next: The numbers that should give the Rockets pause

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