The Houston Rockets need an Assist to jumpstart the offense

N.B. Lindberg
Houston Rockets v Utah Jazz
Houston Rockets v Utah Jazz / Chris Gardner/GettyImages
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The Houston Rockets desperately need an offensive jolt. Their offense is ranked 28th in the league, and they’re neck-and-neck with the Los Angeles Lakers for the league’s worst effective field goal percentage. The only thing keeping their offense afloat has been their ability to crash the offensive glass. 

What is so confounding about the Rockets’ inability to convert shots is that they have good shooters. Kevin Porter Jr., Eric Gordon, Jalen Green, and Jabari Smith Jr. are all lethal jump shooters but have all been disappointing shooting the ball this season. Only Alperen Sengun has been immune to the Rockets’ shooting woes, but that’s more a product of him being a post-up and offensive rebound monster. 

Are the Rockets struggling on offense because they can’t shoot? Or is it something deeper? Looking at the data, it appears how the Rockets are generating their shots is what is actually hamstringing their ability to get buckets. 

The Rockets are lacking assists

The Rockets’ 19.2 assists per 100 possessions rank dead last in the NBA, their percentage of assisted 2-point field goals (39.5%) is second-to-last, and their percentage of assisted 3-point field goals (74.8%) is fourth from the bottom. 

The two other teams to join them in the bottom five in all three metrics are the Dallas Mavericks and the Orlando Magic. The Mavericks have used an assist-averse offense to the league’s second-best offensive rating, but that’s solely a feature of employing Luka Doncic. The Magic and Rockets, who do not employ a generational offensive hub, are 27th and 28th in offensive rating. 

The Rockets’ lack of assists stems from their offense’s lack of passing. According to NBA tracking data, they attempt the four fewest passes per game at 261.3 and have the lowest adjusted assist-to-pass percentage in the NBA. Add up all the data, and the Rockets are not only passing infrequently, but when they are, they’re passing poorly. 

Next: How the Rockets’ poor passing is hurting their 3 top shooters