The Houston Rockets are traveling to their bubble home for hopefully the next few months. With the NBA season finally resuming there are questions for all 22 teams. The Rockets have been up and down since the trade deadline and will have several items to address. These are the three most important areas the Rockets must improve on to bring home a championship.
Houston Rockets 3-point percentage
Its no secret the Rockets live and die from behind the arc. It has been this way for several years now. So it’s not surprising that this is one of the keys to a championship. The Rockets will never be considered one of the best shooting teams in the league. This goes with the territory when you are a high volume 3-point shooting team. But the difference in wins and losses is clear when it comes to their 3-point percentage.
In the 14 games the Rockets have played since trading for Robert Covington they are shooting 38.9 percent from downtown in wins and 29.1 percent in losses. They have basically the same attempts just the percentage drops off a cliff. When the Rockets are making their shots from downtown it energizes their defense.
It gives them time to set up their halfcourt switching defense. But when the shots aren’t falling and you are shooting nearly 50 3-pointers a game you are subjected to long rebounds that setup easy fast breaks. The Rockets even with Westbrook aren’t the most athletic team so trying to slow down opposing team fast breaks is not their strength.
The return of sixth man of the year Eric Gordon
Eric Gordon has probably had his worse season as a Rocket to this point of the year. Mainly due to the injury he suffered at the start of the season that sidelined him for two months. Unfortunately even when he was back his shot was no where to be found.
Even with the addition of Covington, DeMarre Carrol and Luc Mbah Moute Gordon is the Rocket besides Russell Westbrook and James Harden that can have a monster offensive game. The last two playoffs Gordon was the Rockets third and at time second-best player. Gordon’s ability to spread the floor all the way out to 30 feet is invaluable when you are trying to create room for Westbrook. With the extended time off Gordon may finally be healthy.
“I’m happy that I’m back to full health,” Gordon told the media on a Zoom call a few weeks ago. “I feel like I’m in a really great place. I’ve been working out for a while, I’m in good shape. I look forward to getting back out there.”
A healthy Gordon gives the Rockets a strong bench of Gordon, Austin Rivers, Carrol, and Jeff Green.
Houston Rockets Team defense
The year the Rockets set a franchise record for wins in a season their defense was superb. Ranking the top 5 most of the year it was a strength instead of a punchline. Last year the Rockets defense started at the bottom but slowly improved during the regular season. Unfortunately, it reverted back to earlier struggles in the 4-2 series loss vs the Warriors.
The Rockets have been middle of the pack in defensive rating all year. The same as last year. This would be fine for most teams especially with an elite offense but to become a championship team you have to be closer to the top 5 to be a serious contender. With the addition of Mbah Moute and Covington having more time to get used to the Houston Rockets system, there is a good chance their defensive rating will improve.
The Rockets are a simple team. Two all-world players who will give you MVP type numbers. For the Rockets it comes down to 3-point shooting specifically by the role players, team defense, and rather Eric Gordon returns to his sixth man of the year form.
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