What a difference a trade makes. Last year, around this time, the Houston Rockets were off to an encouraging start sitting at the top of the West and one step closer to securing the invisible trophy for the most wins for the season. With the summer, a few key players, and defensive personnel gone with the wind, the team is off to a rough start this season.
For a team that was the closest to defeating the undefeatable Golden State Warriors, a record of 1-4 is simply unacceptable. So why haven’t things clicked yet? First and foremost, this is a different team. Perimeter defense was lost with the departure of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. James Ennis, Michael Carter-Williams and Carmelo Anthony were added to the Rockets mixture but the chemistry hasn’t quite gelled yet. The weight of the woes do not lie solely on defense and the newcomers. Production seems to be at an all-time low for some of the key players.
Clint Capela is taking a moment to get back to being that force he was during the playoffs. Teams have figured out how to draw him away from the basket and break down the defense. He has maintained his quickness but unfortunately, Capela is struggling to finish at the rim.
Then there are the beyond-the-arc struggles. With the rule changes, it’s clear that the league wants more scoring and a faster paced game. Unfortunately for the Rockets, it seems like they are struggling to keep up with the pace and that tiredness is showing itself in the worst way. Shots aren’t falling.
To win games, you have to makes shots.
To add insult to injury, two of the star players have already missed games in which the team can’t afford to miss any key players. Chris Paul just finished serving a two-game suspension after an on court scuffle, which would be the “insult.” James Harden has missed a few games due to a hamstring strain, which would be the “injury.”
It’s still the beginning of the season so all hope is not lost. Here’s hoping the team finds its stride so they can end Pre-season and get this regular season going.