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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for January and and February: 14. Houston Rockets

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of February 28th) :  31-28 (third place, Southwest Division)  



12
This Month:

14
Team Statistics and League Rank (as of February 28th)
  • Points Scored: 106.4 (2nd)
  • Points Allowed: 103.6 (29th)
  • Team FG%: .463 (6th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .459 (20th)
  • Team FT%: .754 (17th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .367 (8th)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.0 (11th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.8 (12th)
  • Turnovers per game: 16.4 (30th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.9 (14th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of February 28th)

  • Scoring (ppg): James Harden (26.3)
  • Rebounds per game:  Omer Asik (11.7)
  • Minutes per game: James Harden (38.5)
  • Assists per game: Jeremy Lin (6.2)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Omer Asik (.539)
  • Free Throw Percentage: James Harden (.860)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Carlos Delfino (.394)
  • Steals per game: James Harden (1.9)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Omer Asik (1.1)

Worst Player of the Month: Jeremy Lin


It will be quite accurate to say that Jeremy Lin has yet to live up to expectations of Rockets fans since signing that whopping 30$ million deal which will pay him a heart stopping 15$ million in its final year.  So far Lin's play this season has certainly not been as awe inspiring to say the least--in fact one can go as far to say that Jeremy Lin's performance has been downright awful putting it bluntly.  His play has certainly fell short of the show stopping performance last season which literally shocked the world enough to completely forget the lockout that cut the season short by 16 games.  He certainly has not lit it up on the offensive end averaging around 13 points per game and his assist tally can be considered as mediocre at best resting at just around six per game.  Although it is still early to tell whether or not the Lin signing can be determined as a bust, but it certainly does not inspire any confidence that he will live up to all the hype generated by his signing or the 22$ million invested in him over the next two years  
First Player of the Month: Greg Smith



He has not grabbed much attention compared to some of his higher profile teammates, but Greg Smith has certainly made his presence felt earning the respect of his teammates and the admiration of Rockets fans. His numbers may not look like much averaging a shade over six points and three rebounds; however, considering the fact that he has produced those numbers at under 15 minutes per game while shooting at an impressive .600 clip, certainly puts him in a new light.  This 22 year old big man can certainly be considered a true diamond in the rough as he was not even drafted, but found by chance and picked up by Houston from the Rocket's D-League Affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.  Although it may be come off as spectacular as his higher profile teammate, Smith's season can certainly be considered one of the true rags to riches feel good underdog stories of the 2013 NBA season.  

Analysis:

It is time once again for another episode of "Here We Go Again" where we will see the Houston Rockets once again be in the running for a playoff spot only to slip and fall at the end of the season.  It has been the same story for the past three years--Houston would finish the season with an above .500 record only to miss the playoffs and have just a low lottery pick to look forward to.  Fans in Houston should be one of the most apathetic in the NBA after seeing their home team continue to reach just so close but remain so far away.  In fact, it has been as long as 1995 since the Houston Rockets looked like a true championship contender and since then, the Rockets have essentially floated between the lines of being average and mediocre.  It's been close to twenty years since the Rockets gave their fans anything to really cheer about and it seems as if that trend looks to continue on once again.

The Rockets attempted to change their past misfortunes in the off-season by signing one of the NBA's sought after free agents and acquiring one of the rising stars in the league; however, as the season winds down to a close, it has been painfully apparent that Houston are no better now than they were last season or any other season for that matter.  Although James Harden currently ranks among the top leaders in the league in scoring averaging close to 27.0 points per game, his field goal percentage is rather unimpressive at just a shade under .450.  Such a mediocre field goal percentage just proves that his production comes primarily from dominating the ball more than actually finding enough quality shots thus giving him a reputation of being a "chucker."  Jeremy Lin, who the Rockets had to pay an added a final season of 15$ million to scare the New York Knicks away from matching their offer has been far from impressive to say the least.  Thus far, Lin's performance has been  average at best and certainly has yet to prove that he is deserving of such a massive investment by the Rockets top brass.

Lin certainly has not shown that he is an upgrade from the Rockets' two previous starting point guards last season and that is pretty disheartening for Rockets fans considering what their team had given up in order to bring Jeremy Lin to Houston in the first place.  Last season's starter Kyle Lowry, was second on the team in scoring along with ranking among the top rebounding point guard in the NBA and he was given away for virtually nothing.  The Rockets sent Lowry to the Toronto Raptors for a lottery protected first round pick once over the next five years along with the essentially dead weight contract of swingman Gary Forbes, who the team ended up waiving once the season started.  Goran Dragic, the player who took over the starting point guard spot during mid season and averaged 15 points and 8 assists per game while starting, was simply allowed to leave in free agency to the Phoenix Suns.  Taking a glance at their number, it is blatantly apparent how both Lowry and Dragic have outperformed Lin by a wide margin making Houston fans grumble even more as they watch Lin's rather less than unspectacular play.

As a team, the Rockets have not had their opponents quaking in their boots with the team's rather porous defense which allows a league high 104 points per game and close to .460 shooting from the field.  The Rockets also rank dead last in the league in turnovers per game, again giving Houston fans more reason to despise Jeremy Lin because he's usually the cause of those turnovers, along with having the third worst assist to turnover ratio in the league as well.  With such a poor effort and performance on the defensive end along with the sheer inability to hold onto the ball on the offensive end, it is all but inevitable that the Rockets will once again return to the lottery only to be called for the lowest pick amongst the teams in the lottery.  They might as just as well tank the season and  increase their chances to acquire the number one overall pick in the NBA draft because as it stands now, the team will continue to go nowhere fast.  Even if they do manage to somehow hold on to make the playoffs, the Rockets will eventually get swept by either the San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder--depending on who they might face--leading to yet another disappointing finish and nothing more than an overwhelmingly low first round draft pick to show for it.

Right now, it looks as if the Rockets have a comfortable lead for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but that can soon change with only a little over a month left in the regular season. With the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks closely nipping at their heels and given the Rockets' past history over the last three years, it does not look good for Houston.  To even maintain their current standing, the Rockets will near perfect basketball to finish the season and that can be considered quite a stretch considering they have been a far from perfect team.  Granted, they have been known to light up a scoreboard with their extremely efficient high octane offense; however, all of that effort goes for naught as they cannot prevent their opponent from doing the exact same thing.  Many will find this piece rather nasty and cruel; however, looking back at Houston history not being able to pass the first round of the playoffs in more than a decade, such a negative perception is more than justifiable.   It is almost comical to watch Houston play each and every season as they have been an ongoing tragic joke of trying so hard in regular season only to come up short each and every time--expect this season to be no different.