The Rockets' biggest weakness this season is inexcusable

N.B. Lindberg
Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets
Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets / Alex Bierens de Haan/GettyImages
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The Rockets’ transition offense

When you imagine a team with Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Kenyon Martin Jr., and Tari Eason, you almost certainly think of insane transition dunks. With one of these four on the court at nearly all times, a face-melting highlight is always a play away. Unfortunately, your imagination isn’t reality. 

The Rockets are 29th in transition possessions per game (15.2), last in transition frequency (13.2%), 29th in transition points per possession (0.99), and last in transition points per game (15.1). For a team with the 26th-ranked offense, completely punting on transition opportunities is frankly inexcusable. 

This transition aversion is new. Last season, the Rockets were eighth in transition possessions (18.5) and frequency (16.5%), last in transition points per possession (1.04), and 14th in transition points per game. What makes their pivot away from easy offense so maddening is that they managed an offensive rating of 108.4 last season and have produced an offensive rating of 108.4 this season. There’s a real avenue for the Rockets to go from a bottom-five offense to around league average simply by running and gunning. 

Looking under the hood, it’s clear that the Rockets’ new transition philosophy is deliberate. They’re forcing a higher percentage of turnovers on defense this season, their defensive rebounding is nearly identical, and they’re playing at a similar pace. The recipe to match last season’s transition volume is there. They’re just not taking it.