I looked at league-wide lineup data yesterday, finding that, to no one’s surprise, several of Houston’s five-man units ranked among the best in the league. What was interesting, however, was that certain players seemed interchangeable among the top lineups. So I decided to dive in this morning on Houston’s intra-team lineup data.
For lineups with at least 100 minutes played, the Rockets’ best unit in the first half was Anderson/Ariza/Gordon/Harden/Harrell, with a net rating of +19.8 in 168 minutes. That lineup also had the team’s best offensive rating for lineups with at least 100 minutes, posting a rating of 125.8.
Former Rocket Otis Thorpe was in the house on Wednesday night to be honored as part of the franchise’s 50th anniversary celebration. While I only got to enjoy half a year of Thorpe before he was dealt to Portland, in the post-Barkley years (or even during, some might argue), Thorpe’s legacy lived on in the minds of Rockets fans as the symbol of the prototypical power forward.
When the Rockets announced their All-90’s team in 2012, I thought it was a complete travesty that that team did not include Thorpe who, while traded before the second title run, was an anchor on the frontline next to Olajuwon through the early 90’s. When I talked to Robert Horry during press availability at the event, I made sure to make mention of the man with whom he shared the forward spot for 2.5 years.
While the sentiment is appreciated, the comparison above is quite a bit off. Aside from physique, there isn’t really much similarity between Thorpe and Blake Griffin. Still, while Thorpe’s breed today is extinct, its important to remember that he was the standard among non-stars at the position during his era.
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.
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Red94 is a blog about the NBA's Houston Rockets. It was created in 2009 by Rahat Huq and inducted into ESPN.com's TrueHoop Network that same year. Follow @redninetyfour on Twitter for all new post updates.