Houston Rockets key to beat the Thunder #1: Protect the ball
Here’s a novel idea for the Rockets; don’t turn the ball over 24 times. The Rockets’ turnover rate of 19.7-percent against the Timberwolves was the worst of any team to start the season. The Timberwolves look much improved from last season, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll be an elite defense.
The Rockets need to do a better job protecting the ball. Turnovers wipe away any opportunity to score and lead to easy baskets on the other end. Opening night, the main culprit was Kevin Porter Jr. In under 25 minutes, he coughed up the ball nine times. Three teams currently have fewer turnovers than him.
Stephen Silas should lessen the ball-handling and playmaking load for Porter against the Thunder. Jalen Green has flashed better than expected passing chops, and Jae’Sean Tate is a solid passer. The Rockets need fewer isolations, more ball movement, and more off-ball movement.
Kevin Porter Jr can be as dangerous off-ball as he is on it, but he isn’t ready to be an NBA point guard every single possession. Throwing players into the fire can work, but Porter got burnt opening night. Silas needs to let him recover before giving him the keys to the offense again.
If Porter can reign in the turnovers, the Rockets’ offense should improve dramatically. Turnovers are contagious, and Porter is the Rockets’ patient zero.