The Houston Rockets have been a disappointment this year, but they managed to sneak into the playoffs at the 8th seed. Earlier this year they fired their head coach Kevin McHale near the beginning of the season which is awful to do if you consider yourself a contending team. Last year this team was 2 games away from the finals and this year 2 games barely got them into the playoffs.
James Harden has been doing everything possible to carry this team along and many are putting the collapse of the team on him, but I would disagree. Not only are his numbers for the most part better than last year, but there are noticeable absences here as well. Many will point out defensive things like the tweet.
That last tweet was after a game Harden dropped 39 points 12 rebounds 7 assists so it is worth mentioning that Bleacher Report has some weird hatred for the guy. Many will say Harden’s defensive deficiencies completely offset his offensive output. While the overall idea I’m about to say I could detail in an article of its own but to be short and sweet here I’m going to make it simple. One perimeter player having awful defense does not affect your team greatly. While championship teams are required to have a unit of everyone at least not being a liability in most cases, Harden is far from the reason this team has fallen apart. I do not like looking at any single number for defensive impact as there are way too many factors to simplify into just one; Harden’s offensive +/- is a 7.1 and his defensive +/- is a -0.4 which equals out to a + 6.7 rating on the floor. Just something to think about.
The reason I believe the Rockets are struggling is because Morey is not making the moves he made last year that throughout the year were patching up everything on the team enough that Harden could carry them to a respectable place. Now you have Ariza having a subpar year, Dwight does not look the same at all, and Brewer has been exposed as being completely and utterly useless in a half court offense. The team needed to find new band aids to have a year like they did last year, but Morey did not come through on that end.
The Rockets are a fairly simple team. James Harden runs either an ISO or a PnR most of the time and either he attempts to get the hole or kick it out for a corner 3. That is another issue of the team is that those 3s are not going down at the same clip they were before. All in all the team will need to make some major changes in the offseason and in the playoffs this year they would be lucky to get a game. Only way I see the Rockets winning a game is if they have James Harden have one of his crazy games that he puts up nearly a 35 point triple double. Without that I do not like their chances and I am going with the Warriors in 5.
All stats are accurate as of 3/31/2016 from nba.com/stats