The Rockets: The Treadmill to the Title

The Numbers

  •  Average Seed
    2
  • 📉 Pessimist
    52.8 wins
  •  Realist
    59.9 wins
  • 📈 Optimist
    67.0 wins
 First Seed
⋆ Division
 Top 4
👍 Over (54.5)
ğŸ‘Ž Under (54.5)
 
21.2%
ğŸŽ€ Playoffs

The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.

Arnold H. Glasow

The Brief

The Rockets have been "trapped" on the treadmill of mediocrity since Yao and T-Mac finally fell apart. Much like a wise batter though, Daryl Morey and the Rockets front office picked their spots and hit it out of the park two off-seasons in a row. The Rockets stand poised to lead the West and the NBA this year.

The Story

There's a truism in NBA management. If one waits long enough, some other NBA team will mess up and let a good player go. Last season, the Rockets capitalized on just this type of situation, when Oklahoma decided they'd rather save money for a season than pay James Harden and return to the finals. In addition, Daryl Morey took advantage of the fact that he's one of the few who has actually read the new CBA, and picked up Jermey Lin and Omer Asik with some "poisonous" contracts. The result had Houston returning to the playoffs with a young and promising core. 

Last Year

  •  Actual Wins: 45
  •  Expected Wins: 50.2
  • ⚅ Lucky Wins: -5.5

 

Player Minutes Age WP48 Wins
James Harden 2985 24 .217 13.4
Chandler Parsons 2758 25 .159 9.1
Jeremy Lin 2640 25 .104 5.7
Omer Asik 2464 27 .168 8.6
Carlos Delfino  1689 31 .059 2.1
Patrick Patterson  1219 24 .084 2.1
Marcus Morris  1154 24 .004 .1
Greg Smith 1110 23 .164 3.8
Toney Douglas  913 27 .010 0.19
Patrick Beverley 713 25 .218 3.2
Donatas Motiejunas 538 23 -.066 -.7
Francisco Garcia 319 33 .076 1.6
James Anderson  307 24 .168 1.4
Terrence Jones 276 22 .166 1.0
Thomas Robinson  247 22 .010 .2
Cole Aldrich  213 25 .077 .6
Daequan Cook  165 26 -.026 -.1
Aaron Brooks 38 29 .027 .6
Scott Machado  21 23 -.186 -.1
Tim Ohlbrecht  12 25 -.568 -.1

 

 Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.

  • 50.0 total Wins Produced
  •  10 players leaving
    (5940 minutes, 8.6 wins)

The Rockets ran the soundest offense in the NBA last season. They were actually better than they looked, being closer to a 50 win team than a 45 win team. With a legitinate superstar, they were only one piece away from being a legitimate contender. Harden is aiming to knock Dwyane Wade off the throne as best shooting guard in the league. What better way than to steal a trick out of Wade's playbook and grab a top center from the Lakers?

This Year

  •  Projected Wins: 59.9
  •  Conference Rank: 1
  • % Playoffs: 98.9

 

Player Position Minutes Age WP48 Wins
James Harden 2.2 2822 24 .223 13.1
Dwight Howard  5.0 2779 28 .231 13.4
Chandler Parsons 3.0 2610 25 .154 8.4
Jeremy Lin 1.1 2194 25 .126 5.7
Greg Smith 5.0 1720 23 .181 6.5
Omer Asik 5.0 1484 27 .176 5.5
Patrick Beverley 1.0 1301 25 .226 6.1
Reggie Williams  2.5 1134 27 .094 2.2
Francisco Garcia 2.6 927 33 .054 1.0
Donatas Motiejunas 4.0 752 23 -.049 -.8
Aaron Brooks 1.1 635 29 -.042 -.6
Marcus Camby  4.8 495 39 .201 2.1
Terrence Jones 4.2 373 22 .190 1.5
Ronnie Brewer  2.4 264 28 .182 1.0
Omri Casspi  3.0 182 25 .095 .4

 

 Indicates that the player is new to the team.

  • 📅 55.9 WP last year
    by these players
  • 🔀 12.7 WP (roster changes)
  • ⏲ 2.3 WP (age/experience)

If the Rockets did nothing else other than grab Howard, they'd have been fine. They also made sure to shore up the wing positions with decent bench players. The only question I have is: why do the Rockets keep bringing back Aaron Brooks? 

The Wrap

Sign good players, stay competitive, and keep your salary cap flexible enough to take a shot when superstars become available. The Rockets nailed this. When the Dwight signing happened, I tweeted that Morey's name should just get etched in for the executive of the year award. It's hard to do much other than gush over the Rockets recent moves. I can say I've questioned some of their moves in the past. That said, like every team in Texas, they seem to have figured it out and will make next season fun to watch.

Actually, I don't have a lot to add. The only thing that comes to mind is that I wonder if McHale will buck conventional wisdom enough to do the obvious: play Omer Asik and Dwight Howard together. I think many coaches get too hung up on positional paradigms; given his athleticism, I have to believe that Dwight would make a great power forward. Between Lin, Harden, and Parsons there is also plenty of shooting to spread the floor. I would sincerely love to see the Rockets fart in the general direction of all this small-ball nonsense and crush their opponents under the boot heels of a twin terror front line.

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