Another Wednesday means another installment of the Red94 Mailbag! The Rockets continue to struggle and give credence to the idea that this could be a more pedestrian season than anyone expected. What haven’t been pedestrian are the questions you all are sending me each week! With that being said, let’s get into this week’s set of questions.
Is it safe to say Eric Gordon is back to being himself? Or were the last two games more a result of CP3 being out/him stepping up when needed?
— Rahul Lal (@rlal95) November 27, 2018
For the Rockets sake, they sure hope that the past two games are Gordon reverting back to his previous abilities and level of play. In these past two games (which were losses), Gordon has scored 64 points on 20-39 shooting from the field and more importantly, 13-27 from beyond the arc.
With Chris Paul missing both of the games, Gordon was thrusted into a large role (he played 43 and 39 minutes respectively in the two games) and had the ball in his hands more. Obviously Gordon won’t shoot nearly 50% on 3-pointers moving forward, but these games could be the start of a hot streak that reverts his shooting percentages back to his career averages.
In the three games prior to this small hot streak, Gordon shot just 5-21 on threes, making it hard to say that he is truly back to being himself. However, as I’ve discussed in numerous mailbags, we all expect Gordon to progress to the mean when it comes to his shooting. Now the Rockets just need that to happen when they have a (somewhat) full rotation and are playing at their best as a team. Otherwise, these strong performances from Gordon will continue to go to waste in losses.
We’re not contenders this year, so where is the hope? A desperate mid season trade?
— Pop Rocket (@poprocketsoda) November 26, 2018
The wording of this question actually gave me a little chuckle because it reminded me that Rockets fans have been somewhat spoiled in recent seasons. Since Mike D’Antoni took over as coach the team has won 55 and 65 games and three playoff series. This season may very well open Rockets’ fans eyes to what the majority of fans have to deal with across the league. Sure, some teams are clearly rebuilding and have no clear goal of competing this season, but there are a bunch of other teams that simply aren’t that good or nowhere near the top level of the league.
I understand that since the Rockets have gone all in on the foreseeable future, it’s easy to be down on the team’s slow start. The team certainly isn’t a contender this year, and now Rockets fans will have to accept the fact that this looks like a team that will be scraping for playoff seeding throughout the regular season, instead of focusing on the top seed in the league.
If Daryl Morey doesn’t pull of a trade this season it will shock almost every Rockets fan. The team desperately needs another wing to shore up the rotation and defense, while a fourth guard or solid backup big man would also do wonders for lowering the minutes total on the key rotational players.
Unlike the 2015-16 season, this Rockets team doesn’t appear to be hampered by poor chemistry and off-the-court issues. Rockets fans should take solace in that. This is a team that is short on capable bodies at the moment, and should Morey make a trade as the team continues to get healthy, the Rockets will still be a very good team. Just this season, it looks like they won’t be anywhere near the best.
How to fix this mess ??
— RyanB (@RayanB24) November 27, 2018
As you can already tell, the majority of questions weren’t very positive this week. To clarify, the current situation the Rockets find themselves in isn’t a mess. The 2015-16 season was a mess. This slow start is mainly due to injuries and cold shooting, two things that can revert back to the mean moving forward.
The clear solution in this season’s case is the team getting healthy. The Rockets are still a very good team when they have Paul, James Harden and Clint Capela on the floor on a given night. If they can stay reasonably healthy moving forward, they should still be in great shape to make the playoffs as a top 4-5 seed.
Another part of the solution is an aforementioned trade to bring in another quality wing and possibly a depth piece in the backcourt or at center. Doing so will give D’Antoni more quality options on a nightly basis and will also cut down the heavy minutes load for the top players.
Again, I’m hesitant to call this a mess given that the losses are mainly a result of simply running out of capable bodies. Sure the defensive effort has been less than ideal and the offense bogged down to start the season. But the main reason for this slow start is the lack of true talent on the floor on a nightly basis, for which there is a fairly clear solution.