Should we “Buy or Sell” the Rockets' preseason?
The Rockets' stellar preseason play has a lot of “regression” indicators, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad. There’s a decent chance they shoot better from three, grab more offensive rebounds, and defend the perimeter better than they did last season. Improvements in those areas will lead to better offense and defense.
Unfortunately, two of the Rockets' massive problem areas, turnovers and defensive rebounding, remained poor in the preseason. However, there is a positive to take away. The Rockets finished dead last in turnover and defensive rebounding rate last season. While the Rockets were poor in the preseason at protecting the ball and cleaning the glass, they also weren’t dead last.
Based on the Rockets’ preseason, I’d “Buy” that the Rockets will be better than they were last season. They went from the worst to bad in two key problem areas, and their ability to gain an edge behind the arc on offense and defense looks improved as well.
Now, I’d also “Sell” that the Rockets’ preseason suggests that they’re going to be a highly competitive team during the regular season. They managed a 12.7% gap in 3-point shooting and only managed to outscore their opponents by +11.6 per 100 possessions. Last season, a total of 70.4 threes were taken per game. 12.7% of 70.4 is 8.9. If the Rockets were to maintain that 12.7% gap in their 3-point shooting it would result in a 26.8 point swing.
Expecting the Rockets to go from the worst team in the league to even a 33 win team was always an uphill battle. They traded Christian Wood, their best player last season, in the offseason, added three more rookies to the roster, and have $52 million in dead cap space. The good news is that despite all of those hurdles, the Rockets look to be improving. That’s no small feat. The Rockets’ preseason was excellent, but not because of the results. It was excellent because of the clear growth in the roster.