If the playoffs started today

 
At the moment, Houston is tied for the 10th best record in the West with Utah, the Lakers, and Dallas all bunched up together at just one game ahead.  They’re pretty much right on track for their usual finish at #14.

In all seriousness, after the recent rough stretch, I think things are extremely encouraging.   The Rockets, historically, in this decade, have always started slowly and then taken off later on in the year.  Add in the fact that they did not have Harden in training camp and at least one of the rookies is bound to break out–as has almost always been the case–and I do think this team will be fighting for a playoff spot come April.

As of now, I see the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Nuggets, and Lakers (they’ll get their act together) as locks.  After that, it’s everyone else vying for the final three spots.  And from those remaining teams, including even Dallas with Dirk, Harden is the single best player and closer, in my opinion giving Houston an edge.

 

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Total comments: 20
  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago If I can only have one...it's Harden, but I would take Love on this team (alleged poor defense included) any time! Our top 3 power forwards grab 13 rebounds a night combined (over a combined 65 minute period). Love is grabbing 14 boards a night in 35 minutes. He would contribute hugely to what is already an incredibly strong offensive team. Those 6-8 extra possessions he provides, plus his ability to shoot from anywhere and excellent passing skills would give the Rox a huge boost and our defense already gives up a ton of points so no change there....we are 29th in points allowed!

    Hypothetical here: How many close games do we win instead of lose due to those 6-8 extra possessions assuming a 50% conversion rate on those? That is an extra 6-8 points minimum. By my count, that would have already given us an extra 5 wins on the season (erring on the side of caution....could have been 8!) putting our record at 21-9 and 4th place in the West.

    Rebounds are HUGE and he is one of the best. Problem is, we have nothing to trade for him except Harden so it's not gonna happen. On the bright side, we can just develop all the guys we do have and stop envying other teams players : )
  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago

    Jeby, on 30 December 2012 - 17:51 PM said:


    On the topic of breakout rookies: it's hard not to think of both Morris and Smith as rookies still. Partly because of last year's shortened season, and partly because they virtually never played last year. To me, the only big difference between them and this year's true rookies is their eligibility for the All-Rookie team. I think Houston's development model of sending prospects to the RGV is great for helping players get better, but hamstrings their shot at earning rookie accolades/numbers. That's the cost if trying to stay competitive while rebuilding.


    Yeah, I'd agree with you. Is it possible to think of Morris as both a rookie and an experienced player? It seems paradoxical, but that's how I think think of him. He's not got much NBA time under his belt, but still quite a lot more than any of the guys behind him. I'm hopeful that we'll see a similar leap from either DMo or TJo next season.

    ST
  • Jeby says 1 YEAR ago On the topic of breakout rookies: it's hard not to think of both Morris and Smith as rookies still. Partly because of last year's shortened season, and partly because they virtually never played last year. To me, the only big difference between them and this year's true rookies is their eligibility for the All-Rookie team. I think Houston's development model of sending prospects to the RGV is great for helping players get better, but hamstrings their shot at earning rookie accolades/numbers. That's the cost if trying to stay competitive while rebuilding.
  • sircharles says 1 YEAR ago much rather have harden, love can shoot and get rebounds but his defense is pretty bad. he isnt the game changer that harden is
  • DaDakota says 1 YEAR ago If you added Love to this team, it would be a championship contender.

    DD
  • Cooper says 1 YEAR ago I would take harden over love a lot of loves big stats don't seem to affect the game as much as you would think.
  • kjunfood says 1 YEAR ago Reading the month old comments...anyone change their mind, as of now, between the Love and Harden comparison?
  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago Out of Golden State and Memphis, I would be more inclined to expect the Warriors to be the ones cooling off. They didn't look great when we played them but I think that was back-to-back-itis. Would also expect Denver to start climbing once they get a few more home games, and the Mavericks will be stepping up too now that Dirk's back. It's going to start getting crowded in the standing soon, methinks.

    ST
  • Red94 says 1 YEAR ago New post: Checking in on the standings
  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago I think both of them are pretty much at the same level, with a little advantage to Love....I mean, which team wouldn't want to have either of them? The slight difference in favour of Love is that he is more dominant offensively than Harden, I mean....there are other (not much, but still they are) superstar SG while I don't see much PF better than Love, or even at his level. Besides....can you imagine him rebounding with Asik? I don't see Minnesota trading him before the end of his contract unless he is really unhappy there and demands a trade (which happen in the case they constantly fall short of the playoffs, and I believe that Rubio is the missing piece for them, so coming to Houston's not gonna happen).
  • Chichos says 1 YEAR ago Love is a better pure scorer than Harden, but if you count both ends of the floor you have to like Harden. Love is generally accepted as being a subpar defender. Even with all his off-season work and strict diet he is still a below the rim player. Unless he figures out a Battier level of position defense he will always be a liability on that end.
  • Stephen says 1 YEAR ago Re Kevin Love.
    W/out Rubio his Minn teams have lost pretty consistantly.
    Once Rubio comes back,I'd expect Minn to really pick it up.
  • rocketrick says 1 YEAR ago I agree for the most part with Rahat's take on the top 6 teams in the West likely to make the playoffs being the Thunder, Lakers, Spurs, Grizzlies, Clippers and Nuggets. Key injuries to any of these teams could knock any of them out, though, in my opinion. I'm more interested in seeing how much progress our team can make this year in terms of overall improvement, get an established player rotation going that becomes consistent over time, compete well against the best teams in the league, and at the end of the year, if the Rockets do make the playoffs, that will be a fitting capper to our season. It is important that the Rockets start playing some playoff games, if not this season, then starting next season, as that is when the cream rises to the top and there is nothing like playoff experience to solidify players careers. If the Rockets are patient with who they eventually choose to fill out our roster and not make a hasty decision, I can envision only good things from this franchise for a number of years including eventually competing for those rings and the trophy at some point.
  • rocketrick says 1 YEAR ago However, Harden has the playmaking ability that Kevin Love as a big simply doesn't possess and assuming Harden continues improving on the defensive end of the court including making more steals that lead to fastbreak opportunities, the more valuable Harden is going to be as the season plays out. We already have enjoyed a taste of what Harden can do on the offensive end of the court with his driving abilities, shooting 3's and free throws proficiently, hitting the open guy for uncontested shots, etc. True, at this point Love is more consistent as it is very difficult for opposing bigs to cover as much ground as Love is capable of which leads to a lot of open looks from the 3 point line. However, at the end of games you want the ball in the hands of a playmaker, ala Harden and not someone like a Love. Love's teammates have to help him get open for his shots. I don't ever envision Love as a defensive stopper either.
  • blakecouey says 1 YEAR ago I've got to disagree about Harden being a better player than Love as well. Love is a double double machine, and it's well over just 10 and 10. We have just a small sample size of Harden as a starter though, and he is being worked into a new offense so there is still time for him to surpass Love in my mind. I do believe it's possible for us to sneak into one of those two spots, although we need to have some help from some guys, namely Patterson.
  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago

    Rahat Huq, on 26 November 2012 - 23:12 PM said:


    I am. Unless you're talking about a generational big like Duncan/Shaq, I personally would always go with the shot creating wing over the big if on the same relative level.


    Based on what I've seen of Harden so far I would have to disagree - I'd say that Love is a level above Harden at the moment. I have yet to see Harden match the consistency of Love on a night to night basis. Over the past couple of seasons Love has been posting excellent games night in and night out. Harden, on the other hand, blows hot and cold. And yes in today's NBA offence from the wing is probably more valuable late in games, but I'd argue that the mismatches that Love creates probably make up for that. he poses a problem to NBA defences in a fashion that few are prepared to counter, whereas for all Harden's brilliance he is doing something that there is a hard 'counter' to (remember his struggles against Iguodala and Allen? For all that people initially dismissed the "how will he fare with the best defender on the other team on him?" argument because of his hot start, I think there is still some validity to asking that question until Harden has shown he can break down an elite defensive wing or two). The one negative against Love is that it's harder to excuse poor defence from a big man than it is from a perimeter player, simply because of the need for an inside presence to function as an anchor in most defensive schemes.

    ST
  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago I am. Unless you're talking about a generational big like Duncan/Shaq, I personally would always go with the shot creating wing over the big if on the same relative level.
  • PKM says 1 YEAR ago Are you saying that Harden is better than Love? I would disagree, and I don't think it would even be that close.
  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago Ah, not sure why I forgot to mention Memphis. Yes, I see them also as a lock. So that brings it down to two spots.
  • It_Was_All_A_Dream says 1 YEAR ago You don't see Memphis as a mortal lock to make the playoffs? That squad plays nasty D and has two absolutely reliable scoring options in Gasol and Z-Bo