The Houston Rockets are now a week into the start of their 2016 campaign. The result of the week of basketball was a very surprising loss on the road to the upstart Los Angeles Lakers and two wins over the Dirk Nowitzki-less Dallas Mavericks.
Now with a week under our belts, here are a few early thoughts about what we have seen so far.
1) Still looking for a rotation
Mike D'Antoni has been using lineup after lineup trying to find the right second unit combo. Much like a mad scientist, D'Antoni has brought to life some of the strangest combos you might ever see on a basketball court.
At one point D'Antoni had James Harden, Corey Brewer, Sam Dekker and K.J. McDaniels all on the floor at the same time. Just madness.
When Patrick Beverley comes back, he should help take hold of the second unit, but until then we might be in store for much more from the mad scientist.
2) Second half lulls are worrisome
It's only been three games so this is nothing to freak out about, but it's something to keep an eye on.
So far the Rockets this year are coming out on fire, but once they hit the locker room they are cooling off. In the first half, the team is scoring an average of 62 points, but only 42.3 in the second half.
The Rockets are full of energy and running non-stop when the games start, but in the second half, we’re seeing the old habits of “give the ball to Harden and get out of his way.”
Some of it is bad shooting, but a lot of it is the team slows down as the game goes on. At Monday's practice, D'Antoni said the team was still getting into "NBA conditioning."
3) IF ONLY HARDEN & DWIGHT HOWARD COULD HAVE BEEN BEST BUDS
Maybe it's the jilted lover inside of me, but seeing D'Antoni's system first hand and seeing how well Howard is doing with the Atlanta Hawks (especially on the defensive end), I am left to wonder what could have been.
Clint Capela will be great eventually, and Nene has done a lot of things for the team this season (except an epically bad first game), but Howard is still much better than both.
Each game Harden spends a large chunk of the game trying to get the ball to Capela on the pick and roll. It works more times than not but man, Howard and Harden pick and rolls were deadly.
WHY COULDN'T HOWARD JUST BE HAPPY DUNKING THE BALL AND REBOUNDING!!!
Just image the Rockets with Howard's rim protection and 4-7 dunks a game, but no, he had to pretend he's the second coming of Shaq.
Overall, the team has looked all right during the first few games, and while there have been a few red flags, it's nothing to be too concerned about just yet.
Up next for the team is a very tough stretch facing the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs on a five-game road trip. When they get back home on the 12th, we should know a whole lot more about where this team is going to be this year.