Hello everyone and welcome to the Red94 Mid-Season Rockets roundup. The 2018-2019 Houston Rockets (29-20) season has had an incredible amount of drama and numerous storylines and now it’s time to evaluate it all and reward the best Rockets thus far.
The website’s writers took a poll and all decided on these answers. Nine of the 14 writers responded.
Most Valuable Player (so far)
In a surprising turn of events, this website chose James Harden as the most valuable player. Wow! In all seriousness, James Harden is going scorched earth on the NBA this year and not looking back. After his team has suffered a ridiculous number of injuries, Harden has been able to look past all of it and produce one of the most insane stretches in a generation. There are a lot of crazy statistics that could be shared here, but let’s keep it short.
James Harden is averaging 36.8 points per game on 44% shooting from the field and 36.8% shooting from deep with a True Shooting percentage of 62.1%. He also currently has a PER of 30.7. He leads the NBA in points by 303 points, is tied for second in win shares with 8.7, leads the NBA in box plus/minus by 1.9 and leads the NBA in Value Over Replacement by 1.6. This is absolutely absurd. He leads the NBA in total Total Points Added (TPA) by nearly 113 points. He also leads the NBA in deflections per game and has stepped up his defense this year.
Others Receiving Votes: Nada.
Most Improved Player (so far)
Before he got injured, Clint Capela was having a very solid year after his contract extension this summer. In fact, he was probably on an all-star level. Averaging 17.6 points (up from 13.9 last year) per game on 63.1% shooting to go along with 12.6 rebounds a game, it seemed as if Capela was finally taking the big leap.
Others Receiving Votes: James Harden
Sixth Man Of The Year (so far)
In years past, this slot was defaulted to Eric Gordon. However, this year the Rockets just need healthy bodies and folks who will give them 20 minutes a night. This season, Gerald Green has stepped up to provide that role. While inconsistent and defensively challenged, Gerald Green has nonetheless been an incredible spark for the often stalemate offense when Harden is on the bench. Green is playing 21.6 mpg, is shooting 34.4% from deep, and is fifth on the team in total minutes played.
Others Receiving Votes: Eric Gordon (1), Gary Clark (1), Danuel House (1), Austin Rivers (1)
Defensive Player of the Year (so far)
PJ Tucker is a menace, plain and simple. He is a workhorse and a hustler. In players averaging over 30 minutes per game, Tucker is 13th in 3FG% allowed for 30 mpg. PJ Tucker is also eighth in the NBA in total charges drawn with 15. Tucker is second on the team in total contested shots, screen assists, and defensivive loose balls recovered.
Even more importantly, PJ also has an adorable family!
Biggest Disappointment (so far)
Statically speaking, Chris Paul is having the worst year of his career. For many starting point guards, averaging 15.6 points per game and 8 assists per game with a PER of 18.1 would be a solid year, but not Chris Paul. Paul is averaging a career low in points per game, third lowest in assists per game, and the lowest FG% of his career. Paul is also averaging the lowest win shares per 48 minutes of his career while also accumulating th second lowest True Shooting percentage of his career. All of that is to say, this has not been the year for Chris Paul thus far.
Yet, last night could be the start of his redemption tour as he scored 12 points and tallied 6 assists in only 25 minutes of play.
Other Receiving Votes: Eric Gordon (3), James Ennis (1)
Grade Mike D’Antoni’s performance (so far)
Mike D’Antoni has had his work cut out for him this year, and Red94 realizes and appreciates that. However, the Rockets fanbase expects greatness. Remarks from the writers range from, “Considering how he’s had to juggle the lineups he’s done a good job. Some decisions are pretty befuddling, and despite Harden’s individual brilliance it would be nice to see a little more ball movement, but riding the horse is probably the best move to keep this team afloat,” to, “I love Mike D’Antoni, but I can’t help but feel like he could manufacture more points out of the second unit. He’s an undeniable offensive wizard, but there are possessions where Gordon and Rivers literally don’t pass or get into an offense when Harden sits. Some more structure could help the bench.”
Other Receiving Votes: C (1), Incomplete (1)
Grade the playoff style uniforms
The NBA showed off their style this year when they gave last year’s playoff teams some new digs. Overall, Red94 approves!
Grade Daryl Morey (so far)
While some of it out of his control, Daryl Morey has not had the start to the season he—or anyone—expected. After a busy and expensive offseason where both Chris Paul and Clint Capela received gigantic contracts, both players ended up missing significant time. Combine that with the poor performance of Paul and its only reasonable that Morey would be criticized. Adding to that, the experiments of Michael Carter Williams and Carmelo Anthony flamed out spectacularly.
One writer says, “[Daryl] Took a lot of risks this off-season and none have paid off. Clark and House were both nice additions, but he needs to resolve the House deal soon.”
The positives for Daryl Morey are the in-season acquisitions of Austin Rivers and Kenneth Faried, both of whom have played remarkably well given the situation.
Others Receiving Votes: D (1), A (1), B (1)
Biggest mistake (so far)
There was some significant variety in the answers here, but it’s pretty clear that Carmelo Anthony’s signing was the biggest mistake of the year. This is not a slight towards Carmelo Anthony (the writer of this article happens to think of him as one of his favorite players), but the Houston Rockets and Carmelo Anthony did not fit. The future Hall of Famer will have many suiters after him on the waiver market and all will benefit from his presence on their team.
Others receiving votes: CP3’s contract (2), House Contract (1), Michael Carter Williams (1), N/A (1).