The Houston Rockets’ three-game winning streak has made Garrison Mathews a star in the greater Houston area. Perhaps that’s hyperbole, perhaps in the two games that Mr. Mathews has started the Rockets have won, and perhaps he has turned the Houston Rockets into an unstoppable juggernaut.
The Rockets' current three-game-winning streak coincided with Mathews receiving his three highest minutes totals of the season. Simply, the more Garrison Mathews plays, the more the Rockets win, and his impact on the Rockets is easy to identify.
How Garrison Mathews has unleashed the Houston Rockets
Mathews’ presence has an outsized effect on the Rockets' offense. Over the past three games, the Rockets’ offensive rating has been 116.2 points per 100 possessions, compared to a 98.7 offensive rating over their first 17 games. His impact hasn’t been limited to the past three games either. In the 168 minutes he has been on the court, the Rockets have posted a 118.5 offensive rating, and in the 797 minutes he’s been in the G-League or on the bench, they have a 97.3 offensive rating. Quite literally, Garrison Mathews has had a worst to first impact on the Rockets’ offense, but can it continue?
Mathews won’t continue to turn the Rockets’ offense into the best in the league, but he doesn’t have to make a significant impact. When Mathews is on the court, the Rockets’ two biggest offensive deficiencies suddenly right themselves. This season, the Rockets have the seventh-worst effective field goal percentage (50.5%) and the worst turnovers per 100 possessions (18.0) in the league.
With Mathews on the court, the Rockets’ effective field goal percentage spikes to 57.4-percent, a full percent above the Golden State Warriors league-leading mark of 56.3-percent, and their turnovers per 100 possessions fall to 13.9, a mark that would be the 10th best mark in the league.
The Rockets shooting and turnover improvements are a result of Mathews’ shooting prowess. His presence stretches defenses and opens up space. His shooting gravity improves shooting efficiency and makes passing more effective. A good indication that the offense is functioning better with Mathews is that the Rockets’ percentage of 2-point and 3-point field goals that are assisted improves dramatically with him on the court.
The improvements don’t stop there, their at-rim or 3-point frequency, the two most efficient shots, improves from 80.1-percent to 84.2-percent with Mathews on the court. Factor in that the Rockets hit those shots more often with him and it’s easy to see why the Rockets' offense suddenly looks lethal with him on the court.
Garrison Mathews before the Houston Rockets
Has Garrison Mathews suddenly morphed into the mythical Appalacian Steph Curry? Nope, not a chance, not this time, a pure fabrication, this one was invented by a writer. In fact, Mathews is the same player he has always been in the NBA.
Over Mathews’ first two seasons, he shot 38.9-percent from 3-point range. This season, he’s shooting 39.1-percent from three. His offensive rating over his first two seasons was 131 points per 100 possessions, this season, it’s 128.
How the Rockets have unleashed Garrison Mathews
All the Rockets’ have done is give him the license to shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. He’s gone from averaging 8.9 threes per 100 possessions to now averaging 12.8. If the early returns are to be believed, which they should be, the Rockets should give Mathews more run and the imperative to gun.
The Rockets’ offense won’t continue a league-leading pace with Garrison Mathews on the court, but that’s completely fine. His presence makes the offense more fluid and provides a much better offensive ecosystem to execute Stephen Silas’ five-out spread pick-and-roll attack.
Remember, the point of this season is to develop the Rockets’ young core of Aleperen Sengun, Jalen Green, and Kevin Porter Jr. Garrison Mathews’ isn’t the key to a playoff push, but he is the key to making sure the future core of the Rockets reaches their full potential.