The Good, the bad, and the unlucky of the Houston Rockets’ past 13 games

N.B. Lindberg
Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets
Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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The Houston Rockets have been in free fall. Following a ten-game stretch from late November into the middle of December, where they went 6-4, the Rockets have gone 1-12 over their ensuing 13 games. The steep dropoff isn’t all that surprising considering they started the season 3-14, but the whiplash has left fans searching for answers. And lucky for you, I have a few. 

Let’s first start with who the Rockets actually are. The Rockets are the youngest team in the league by average age (22.4) and even younger when adjusted for minutes. They are also the cheapest roster in the league as they have the lowest active cap (salary spent on players on the active roster). And finally, the Rockets have three players in their prime years (24 to 32), and they are Bruno Fernando, Garrison Mathews, and Jae’Sean Tate. 

What I just described was a team designed to be capable of 1-12 stretches. The ugly truth is the Rockets not finishing with the worst record in the league would count as an impressive season. The fanbase might not want to hear that, but that’s the team the front office deliberately constructed. However, even as the Rockets have crashed landed over the past 13 games, there are some legitimate positive developments going on under the hood. 

The Good 

The Rockets have seen a marked improvement in their passing over the past 13 games. They’re attempting 287.2 passes per game, up from 277.4 in their previous 27, and it’s led to  44.3 potential assists per game compared to 41.3. The end result is an improved assist percentage of 58.5% over the past 13 games compared to 54.6%. An assisted shot is more likely to fall than an unassisted one, so their slight dropoff in effective field goal percentage (51% to 50.5%) shouldn’t last long.

The Rockets have not only increased their passing proficiency but have cut their turnover percentage from 14.6% to 12.6%. That’s a swing of going from the bottom of the league to slightly better than the league average of 12.9%. If the Rockets can maintain their newfound ability to pass more and turn the ball over less, they’ll see their offensive rating and effective field goal percentage start to creep up. 

Next: The Bad