The blue uniforms may be favorites of Rockets players, but the scoreboard disagrees. These uniforms are now (I believe) 0-4. Try some catsup and mustard if you want to win, Rockets.
But do they want to win? And if they do, can they right now?
Tonight the Rockets were only missing their one NBA level point guard in John Wall, and also Danuel House, and their other presumed PG Broderic Thomas. In some respects it was a stacked roster, by the standards of a couple of days ago.
However, not having a primary ballhandler is a big problem. Victor Oladipo is playing hard, and after starting horrendously in two games, has played pretty well in the rest of the games. If you can cast your mind back to when he was drafted out of Indiana in 2013, he was presented as a big point guard, rather than a combo guard, or really, a smallish shooting guard.
It quickly became evident that Oladipo was not in fact a point guard. Although his handle was decent, he mostly could create looks for himself, and could sometimes turn those into looks for others. Contrast this to his opponent tonight, Chris Paul, who can simply manipulate defenses into giving up good looks for other players by dribbling to the perfect spot.
Tonight repeated a pattern quickly becoming familiar to Rockets fans, fall down early, come back somewhat, come back more, fall down more. Halftime. Come out at the half, mount a comeback. Get the game very tight at the end, and then fall short.
Right now it’s clear that the Rockets usually don’t know where to be on offense or defense, and that if there isn’t a lack of a plan, they lack anyone to execute one, on offense. This is understandable, as their only floor general will be out until almost the end of January.
In the meantime, the losses mount on the Rockets’ way to the quarter post. Tonight, in many areas they were simply outclassed by Phoenix. Every time an opponent really needs a bucket against these Rockets, they get it.
It’s pretty much that simple.
If you’re wanting the team to tank, really be the worst team in the NBA, however, take a good look at Phoenix.
Consider the last time they were almost a playoff team. Rockets assistant Jeff Hornacek (how? how?) was coaching them into a false dawn of a near playoff berth and 48 wins (the West was really good in 13-14). It’s since been a long,painful, time of being either merely bad, or straight up execrable, for what once was a vibrant, contending, franchise.
Everyone expects a short jaunt to the cellar for a star draft pick, but that isn’t usually how it goes.
Phoenix might emerge from their doledrums this year, they might not. In any case, they last reached the playoffs in 2009-2010, with Alvin Gentry coaching the remnants of Mike D’Antoni’s SSOL Suns. Their best player was Stat. It was that long ago.
You can say “Ownership! Management!”, but are you sure that won’t be case with the Rockets? It probably won’t be, as the Rockets GM and coach seem solid (ownership remains an open question), and even in a losing cause, the Rockets play hard. For now.
We’re not even at the quarter post, and the Rockets have yet to play with an intact starting lineup. It shouldn’t be impossible to make at least the “play in game” with a good 2/3rds of a season. But if things aren’t looking put together by about game 30, expect a lot more of this.
The beauty of the theory often falls short the reality of the experience.
What sort of vehicle?
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A mid range sedan, in need of repair.
A sports car without a wheel.
A $75,000 pick up truck that never has been on a road more rugged than Central Expressway.