After going on a league-high ten game winning streak, the Rockets lost two games—to division foes Grizzlies and Spurs—and finally appeared human.
Everyone was drinking the Kool-Aid, but now it seems like the media darlings have plunged back down to earth.
Last week, they ranked as high as first in the arbitrary-but-oh-so-important power rankings. This week, Houston has nearly earned a consensus at the fifth spot.
Houston Rockets Power Rankings
|CBS Sports||5||down 4|
|USA Today||5||down 1|
CBS Sports had previously been the most bullish on the Rockets, hailing them as the top team for a few consecutive weeks. Matt Moore’s ranking system is slightly different than the other sources, since it keys in on recent play and trends. As the Rockets went on their hot streak, Moore rewarded them.
Moore’s criteria is enslaved to the moment, but it portrays an accurate landscape of the NBA, which is the main purpose of power rankings.
When the Rockets won ten games in a row, they were playing the best in the league. Now, with a couple losses under their belt, they have rightfully fallen.
The Rockets were never the best team in the NBA; they were the hottest. Now, the rankings more accurately reflect their status in the league; they are contenders, but still in the shadow of the league’s “Goliaths.”
CBS Sports, USA Today, and ESPN have the Toronto Raptors ahead of the Rockets, but NBA.com has the Rockets in front. Houston has a better record than The Drakes but the advanced metrics point North. The Raptors have the second best Net Rating in the league behind the Warriors and the best offensive rating, per Basketball Reference.
Almost every outlet has the Cleveland Cavaliers in the driver’s seat of the league after their narrow defeat of the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day.
While they have been unseated, the Rockets have established themselves as contenders in a league full of mediocre pretenders.