The Houston Rockets are currently sitting as the sixth seed in the Western Conference. In light of the Rockets’ impressive Christmas day victory over the Chicago Bulls, I think it is only fair that we ask the question. Are the Houston Rockets the real deal?
The Rockets are on a four game win streak. Although the amount of consecutive wins may not be as impressive as you would first think, lets take note of who they have defeated and the margins which they have defeated opponents by.
- December 17th Rockets defeat the Knicks (in New York) 109-96
- December 19th Rockets defeat the 76′ers 125-103
- December 22nd Rockets defeat Grizzlies 121-96
- December 25th Rockets defeat Bulls (in Chicago) 120-97
In the four previously mentioned games we have seen both Jeremy Lin and James Harden stamp their authority as being potentially one of the best ‘dynamic duos’ in the league. In fact, we are currently witnessing what is statistically considered the second best back court in the league. Looking at these four games alone we have seen both players put up averages of:
Jeremy Lin – 19 PPG, 9.0 APG, 59 FG%.
James Harden – 29.5 PPG, 6.0 APG, 58 FG%.
Jeremy Lin has received his share of criticism since ‘Linsanity’ hit New York late in the 2011/12 season. And although he struggled through the first month of this season with Houston, it has been extremely entertaining to see him lift his game back to the level that Rockets’ fans had hoped he would play to.
Being the second best offensive team in the league (with OKC sitting at #1), it is obvious that Houston can score the ball, but perhaps what is not as highly noted is the fact that the Rockets are currently the sixth best defensive team in the league. And with big man Omer Asik and his seven foot frame down low protecting the paint, averaging 11.5 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 10.6 points per game I expect this to stay at a high level.
The real issue for Houston is not the level of talent on their current roster, because it is clear that the previously mentioned guys as well as Chandler Parsons, Marcus Morris and Patrick Patterson are extremely talented young and developing players. What cannot be ignored is their distinct lack of experience. The Rockets roster is the youngest in the NBA, with an average of only 1.9 years experience in the league. While their more experienced guys like James Harden and Omer Asik have spent a majority of their careers coming off the bench.
It will be interesting to see how consistent the Rockets can be this season, but it is undeniable that they are the real deal and will be an impressive team in and for years to come. If they want immediate success, Jeremy Lin and James Harden will not only have to keep up their current level of play, but greatly reduce the 6.4 turn overs per game that they average between them.