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.
As I said this morning, I’m pretty okay with it. I wrote last week as to why I would have been willing to part with assets in an Ibaka trade. As I outlined, also in that piece, Ibaka has declined significantly from the production upon which his reputation was originally built. Still, I would have done it, if for no other reason than that his outside shooting would have lifted the theoretical ceiling on this team. But I get why the asking price might have been too rich for Daryl Morey’s liking, particularly for a rental. Because for the Rockets, unlike the case with the Raptors, this move almost definitely would have been a rental.
I still do strongly expect Morey to make a move ahead of the deadline. However, Ibaka was the last big name in play.
Right now, the Rockets are sixth in overall field goal percentage at 46.6%. They are now down to twelfth in three point percentage at 36.5%. (On November 23, they were fifth). They still lead the league in three point attempts by a wide margin over the Cleveland Cavaliers, at 39.8 attempts per game. And they also lead the league in threes made.
The Rockets have now fallen to twelfth in total rebounding percentage. On November 23, they were at third. In offensive rebounding percentage, they are tenth in the league, and in defensive rebounding percentage, they are seventeenth. (They were fourth and tenth, respectively on November 23. With Dwight Howard last year, they were sixth and last). So the rebounding has gotten worse over the course of the season, but I don’t know how much of that is a factor of Clint Capela’s absence and Nene just wearing down over the course of the year.
The turnover problem seems to have improved. The Rockets now have the seventh highest percentage, after having the third highest on November 23. Last year, they had the fourth highest.
And lastly, pace is up to fourth, behind Brooklyn, Golden State, and Phoenix. On November 23, the Rockets were fourteenth in pace. (Seventh last season). So it does seem they’ve started playing faster as everyone expected. Recall that upon the revelation on November 23rd (after a relatively healthy fourteen game sample size) that the team was meddling at the fourteenth fastest pace in the league, contrary to all expectations, we as a group theorized that Harden was inherently dissimilar to Steve Nash due to his tendency to walk the ball up the court. He’s either sped things up in gaining familiarity with the system, or, this is the effect of a different significant factor: replacing Tyler Ennis with Patrick Beverley. The November 23 statistics did not reflect Beverley’s presence in the lineup, and the second unit spearheaded by Pat almost always pushes the pace at a frantic rate.