Chris Vernon of The Ringer recently aired some of his grievances with the travesty, as he sees it, that is Houston Rockets’ basketball. In an episode of the Mismatch, Vernon went off for two minutes on what appears to be his first and only glimpse of Rockets basketball. In no uncertain terms, he starts his tour de force in hyperbolic sports outrage by saying, “This Rockets thing absolutely disgusts me…this whole operation truly disgusts me.”
Wow. Slow down, buddy. First, NBA basketball is never disgusting. Don’t believe me? Here’s a quick look at a possession from the collegiate ranks.
Now, that is disgusting basketball. If I told you that everyone on the court was drunk, you would have no evidence to counter my assertion. Now, back to the task at hand. Vernon didn’t stop at calling the Rockets disgusting because when has anyone on a podcast let hyperbole slow them down? He had to prove his point using facts.
He backs up his claim that the Rockets are disgusting by first pointing to other bad teams as an example of how not all bad NBA teams make him want to projectile vomit.
"“These teams, yet they’re not good, they’re probably going to tank at the end of the year, but they are putting together teams that can go out there, can compete, can teach these guys how you’re supposed to play basketball, share the basketball. We just lauded how you’re getting picked off by teams, you know Utah, who we didn’t expect to be good, but also Indiana, also San Antonio, also some of these teams we did not expect to be competitive at all, and they’re shooting a bunch of threes, and they’ve got regularly 30 assists in a game, etc, and, you know they’ve got veteran guys on their team to kind of teach these guys how to be professionals.” "- Chris Vernon
There’s a lot to unpack here, but like a week-long vacation, it’s better to do it right away, as opposed to living out of a suitcase like a transient. The problem with Vernon picking on the Rockets and elevating the Jazz, Pacers, and Spurs is that it’s very much a buffet argument. The Rockets may be 2-12, but the Pistons are 3-12, the Magic 4-10, and the Lakers 3-10, yet those teams are left completely out.
In fact, the Rockets’ net rating is a full 1.2 points per 100 possessions better than the Pistons, and the Spurs’ net rating of -7.3 shows just how much of a fluke their 6-9 record is. He also mentions how these teams are taking a bunch of threes, which is true. The Pacers take the third most per game, the Jazz the fifth, and the Spurs the 13th, but guess what? The Rockets take the eighth most 3-pointers per game!