Grading the Houston Rockets season thus far
Calling a 5-15 record a success might seem like a stretch, but when you look at all the facts objectively, it’s no small feat. The Rockets have played the ninth-strongest schedule, with 11 of their first 15 games and 12 of 20 overall coming on the road. They’ve played exactly three teams that aren’t currently in a play-in position or better and have gone 2-1. The one loss was to the Timberwolves, who are a game out of tenth in the West.
Now, looking at the roster, it was clear this season was always going to be tough. Age is just a number, but the Rockets have a team that is all the wrong ages if you’re trying to win. Nine players, not including TyTy Washington, are 22 and younger, and young teams usually lose a whole bunch.
They also have two NBA senior citizens in 34 year old Boban Marjanovic and Eric Gordon, which leaves exactly three players in their prime years. Unfortunately, the Rockets are getting the primes of Garrison Mathews, Bruno Fernando, and Jae’Sean Tate, and Tate and Fernando have played a combined seven games and 129 minutes.
On top of having a roster that is essentially all pre or post-prime, the Rockets also have the league’s cheapest roster. Their active cap of $73.5 million is the lowest, and the only team within $20 million of that figure is the Spurs, who own the league’s worst net rating, and that’s with the league’s ninth easiest schedule. And to throw one more point in the Rockets’ favor, $19.5 million of their active cap is going to Eric Gordon.
The Rockets' 5-15 record is a promising outcome for this roster and run of games. They’ve beaten the teams they should, with a few upsets along the way, and have punched above their financial weight. As a collective, the Rockets deserve a B for their early work because most teams in their situation would be comically bad. Now let’s hand out some player grades.