It's a widely known fact around Rockets fan circles that the Houston Rockets are the youngest team in the NBA. This is viewed as a positive, a sign of good things to come. That is quite possibly true.
But saying the Rockets are a young team doesn't go nearly far enough. The Oklahoma City Thunder are a young team as well. They went to the NBA finals despite their youth. Don't expect the Rockets to make a similar trip right away, because young doesn't capture the breathtaking inexperience of the Rockets 15 man roster.
Perhaps these wee factoids will illuminate and entertain. Examples chosen purely at random, or from spite.
- The entire 15 man Rockets roster has participated in 1659 NBA regular season games, 1809 total games.
- Kevin Garnett has participated in 1264 NBA regular season games.
- Kareem Abdul Jabar participated in 1560 regular season games, 1797 total games.
- The entire 15 man Rockets roster has started 386 NBA regular season games.
- Kevin Durant (age 24) has started 390 NBA regular season games.
- Ray Allen has started 1141 NBA regular season games,
- The Rockets 15 man roster has played 35,089 NBA regular season minutes.
- Kobe Bryant has played 42,704 NBA regular season minutes, 7615 minutes more than the entire Rockets team.
- The Rockets coach, Kevin McHale, played 35,834 NBA minutes, or 745 more than his whole team, at this point.
- The Rockets roster has scored 13,215 NBA regular season points.
- Carmelo Anthony (28) has scored 16,089 NBA regular season points.
- The Rockets roster has played 2687 minutes of playoff basketball.
- Shane Battier has played 2438 minutes of playoff basketball.
- Tim Duncan has played 7415 minutes of playoff basketball.
- The Rockets 15 man roster has 27 seasons of NBA experience.
- The Los Angeles Lakers' starting five has 64 years of NBA experience. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol have 27 NBA seasons between them.
- The New York Knicks have 115 combined seasons of NBA basketball played.
- Portland, considered a young team, has 46 seasons of NBA experience combined, or 19 more than the Rockets.
- Only one team comes close to matching the Rockets for sheer inexperience:The New Orleans Hornets. They boast 34 seasons of NBA experience across their roster, 7 more than Houston.
- New Orleans has logged 38478 regular season minutes played compared to the Rockets 35089.
- James Harden and Carlos Delfino have played 6507 minutes of NBA regular season basketball. The rest of the 15 man roster has played 6705 minutes of NBA regular season basketball.
There is of course, more. But why go on with this?
Even New Orleans, after utterly tanking a season, moving out all their players, shockingly getting the 1-1 pick (whilst owned by the NBA, which also oversees the draft lottery), still have more minutes of NBA experience than the Rockets.
For all the talk about Lin being the go-to guy,let's keep a sense of perspective, eh? He's got a bit more than half a season's experience, going off starters minutes. That's a heavy expectation for a guy who is essentially a mid-season rookie. But I bet when you think of Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin you didn't suspect Parsons had 621 minutes more experience. That would translate to 19 more games at 32 minutes a game.
Daequan Cook, to add further perspective, has 4033 more minutes of NBA playing time than Lin, or 126 games, at 32 minutes a game.
Omer Asik has played almost exactly 100 more minutes (or 3ish games at 32 minutes) more than Chandler Parsons. That's your experienced big man.
This isn't a knock on anyone, (especially Saint Jeremy), just a way of saying, manage your expectations. Harshly.
The Rockets have a star now, right? So they're ready to compete, right? Again, perspective, its a team whose 23 year old star, max contract, player is going to start his 17th game in the NBA when next the team plays. 9 of those starts have come with the Rockets, this season. Harden's 24 year old OKC buddy Kevin Durant has started 433 games.
Let's compare Durant's starts to the Rockets grizzled voice of experience, Cabeza Delfino. In 7 previous seasons Delfino has started 165 games, or about 2 seasons' worth of starts, or 268 fewer than Durant, considered an NBA baby. The wily veteran of the Rockets is, thus, a career bench guy who should never, ever, shoot another step-back three pointer again. The fact that he does shoot such shots might suggest something about the quality of his advice.
This team has been competitive in every game it has played. It has lost substantial leads in all but one loss. The team is rebounding and scoring well. By the beginning of next season the Rockets will add about 20,000 more minutes played, or 57% of the current total minutes played for this year's team.*
There's a lot to be excited about, and a lot to learn.
*You read that right - the Rockets have less than 2 seasons overall experience across 15 players in terms of NBA minutes played.