Taking Stock Of The Rockets Through 10 Games

Following Monday’s 115-88 win over the Sixers, the Rockets sit at 6-4 with an eighth of the season in the books. Seven games have been played away from Toyota Center, while three have been played against San Antonio and Cleveland. There are good wins of the six, most notably at San Antonio, and the one bad loss (at the Lakers), doesn’t look quite as bad. Here is what has stood out so far:

James Harden is absurd
Harden is averaging 30 points, 8 rebounds and 12.6 assists per game. Nobody has ever averaged that over an entire season, and Oscar Robertson is the only player to ever average 28, 6, and 11. Harden has a chance to be the first player in 25 years to average 13 assists a game. He’s shooting at close to 50 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3. I don’t know if he’ll be the league’s MVP, but you can go ahead and put his name on one of the three All NBA teams.

Eric Gordon was worth the money, so far
Here’s Gordon’s shot chart through 10 games:
shotchart 1479220328605 Taking Stock Of The Rockets Through 10 Games
We’ve always known he can shoot, but that 58.8 percent mark inside the restricted area might be most important. That would be the highest percentage of his career, and the first time in a handful of seasons that he’s even been league average. Right now, he’s healthy, and when Gordon is healthy he’s a devastating offensive player.

Corey Brewer still can’t shoot.
On the other hand, let’s take a look at Corey Brewer’s shot chart:
shotchart 1479220763874 Taking Stock Of The Rockets Through 10 Games
0-for-10 on corner 3s. Yikes. Brewer’s role has fluctuated a bit with Patrick Beverly’s spot in the starting lineup in flux, and he still does some things well, but with Beverly due to return you wonder where that leaves Brewer in the Rockets rotation, especially with Mike D’Antoni getting more and more comfortable with Sam Dekker. Speaking of which….

Dekker can play
It’s easy to overlook a guy that played six total minutes as a rookie, but now healthy, Dekker has impressed thus far. He’s shooting 49 percent from the field, and 40 percent from 3. D’Antoni used him as a backup power forward at the start of the season, but more recently, he’s played at the wing positions with Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza, a group that according to NBA.com is outscoring teams by 50.4 points per 100 possessions.

Rebounding is their Achilles heel
Through 10 games, D’Antoni has yet to play two of his bigs (Clint Capela, Nene, Montrezl Harrell) at the same time, and they have more than survived on the glass. The Rockets have actually been the fourth best rebounding team in the NBA. It helps when you are rebounding 27.6 percent of your own misses (5th highest rate in the NBA), and their 76.7 percent defensive rebound rate is in the middle of the pack, but that number drops to 74.5 percent in losses. Right now the Rockets are a bottom 10 defense, so the fewer shots they have to defend, the better off they’ll be.

Other random thoughts and observations

  • Rockets are -26 points per 100 possessions when Harden is off the floor.
  • Clint Capela gets better every night, but they need more than 23 minutes per game from him.
  • Per NBA.com, Rockets are scoring just .73 points per Harden isolation, down from .93 a year ago.
  • Per NBA.com, Rockets have scored 22 points on 33 post-ups this season, Dwight Howard has 44 on his own this season in Atlanta and has been slightly more efficient than with the Rockets (.86 points/per possession vs .82)
  • The Rockets most effective roller in the pick and roll hasn’t been Capela. On 15 possessions, Anderson has scored 23 points, 3rd most among players with more than 10 chances.
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