I last looked at lineup data for the Rockets on November 23, before Patrick Beverley had fully immersed into the rotation:
Lineup data will drastically shift with Beverley’s inclusion going forward, but thus far, here’s what we have: the lineup of Anderson, Ariza, Capela, Gordon, and Harden has a net rating of +18.3 in 154 minutes played! That quintet is second to only the Clippers lineup of Griffin, Jordan, Moute, Paul, and Redick, among league lineups having played at least 150 minutes. For comparison’s sake, Golden State’s best heavy minute lineup is Curry, Durant, Green, Pachulia, and Thompson, producing a +11.4 net rating in 164 minutes played.
That same quintet of Anderson, Ariza, Capela, Gordon, and Harden, with an offensive rating of 117.8, is tops in the league among groups with over 100 minutes of shared court time. That’s better than the Clippers and better than the Warriors. The Houston Rockets’ starting lineup was really good.
Among quintets with at least 150 minutes of playing time, Houston’s best unit features Anderson, Ariza, Gordon, Harden, and Harrell, good for fifth in the league with a net rating of +19.8. That’s an even better net rating than the one that was produced by the Anderson/Ariza/Capela/Gordon/Harden quintet which was second in the league at the time on November 23. That the rank has dropped probably shouldn’t come as too great a surprise as the Warriors, as expected, have rounded into form, with two of their units occupying the top slots. The Cavalier unit of Irving/James/Liggins/Love/Thompson leads the league in net rating for units with over 150 minutes played with a whopping net rating of +28.3. Just above the Rockets at fourth is a Wizards unit at +22.0. My greatest surprise here is the inclusion of Harrell over Capela, though I suspect some of that production coincides with Houston’s ruthless December when Capela was partially sidelined and Houston feasted on opponents.
Adjust that minutes threshold up to 300, and now Houston’s top unit becomes Anderson/Ariza/Beverley/Capela/Harden, fourth in the league with a net rating of +10.4 with 329 minutes played together. The league’s top unit then becomes Curry/Durant/Green/Pachulia/Thompson, with a net rating of +23, followed by Griffin/Jordan/Mbah a Moute/Paul/Reddick at +16.2, and then Beal/Gortat/Morris/Porter/Wall at +11.9.
Looking at just offensive rating, for lineups with at least 150 minutes played, the quintet of Anderson/Ariza/Gordon/Harden/Harrell has a rating of 125.8, second in the league to Irving/James/Liggins/Love/Thompson at 126.2.
Adjust the threshold to 300 minutes, and the quintet of Anderson/Ariza/Beverley/Capela/Harden has the highest offensive efficiency in the league at 121.6 in 329 minutes played, above even the Warriors. The Warriors lineup of Curry/Durant/Green/Pachulia/Thompson is second at 120.2 in 508 minutes. After the Warriors, there is a steep drop-off to third with the Cavaliers unit of Irving/James/Love/Smith/Thompson posting a 113.7 in 300 minutes.
Houston’s best unit defensively, among units with at least 150 minutes played, is Anderson/Ariza/Capela/Gordon/Harden, good for 14th. Replace Gordon with Beverley, and you get the 15th ranked defensive unit among units with at least 300 minutes. Probably not a surprise that the Rockets don’t boast any of the league’s best defensive units.
I do think its interesting, however, that from the data above, Harrell and Capela, and Beverley and Gordon seem interchangeable. There’s a basic recipe that if you have Harden and Ryan Anderson at the ‘4’, and Trevor Ariza playing defense and spotting up, with two other parts that fit, the end result is one of the league’s best overall units, and one of the league’s very best offensive units. My guess is that really the only big drop-off was Beverley to Tyler Ennis, but Capela to Harrell or Gordon to Beverley did not seem to change things much. And naturally, Harden to whomever is not a result that would rate well.