If you have only one win in ten games to start your season, you aren't off to a great start by any means. So the Houston Rockets find themselves after the first ten games of the 2021-22 season. One win vs. the Thunder ( who somehow have three wins already) and several games where they had the lead either at the half or late in the game.
You are what your record says you are. That is the old sports saying, but sometimes, especially in the case of the Rockets, it doesn't give the complete picture of how your team is performing. Factors like schedule, injuries, playing several young players, and just plain bad luck should all be considered when discussing if a team has no hope and is truly a lost cause.
The Rockets have had a brutal schedule, are playing several players who are 21 years and younger, and the latter explains why they have lost a few games they could have easily won against good competition. The second-worst record in the league doesn't reflect the team's progress so far, and here are the reasons why that's the case.
A brutal schedule to start the year.
When the schedule first came out, it wasn't crazy to say the Rockets at best could win two of those games. Unfortunately, that was half true as the only other winnable game on paper was the opener vs. the Timberwolves. This is funny to say now, considering this was probably the Rockets’ worst game this season.
The combined records of the Rocket's first ten opponents is 52-37 (58 percent winning percentage), and that includes two games with the Lakers who haven't had LeBron for a handful of those games (of course, he played in both Rockets games). This includes a long west coast trip where the Rockets were on the road for over eight days. They were only favored to win one of the first ten games, and that's the sole win on record.
The Rockets aren't just young in terms of age
When discussing how young a team is in sports, we tend to look at age. For instance, we forget that players like Jae'Sean Tate, who is 26, but has less than two years in the NBA. The Rockets have eight players on their active roster that have three years or less of NBA experience. One of their "veteran" players, Christian Wood, has played in just 164 TOTAL games in his seven years in the NBA.
Coach Silas is in only his second year as a head coach, his first full year considering last year was a shortened season. It is hard enough to be a young coach in the NBA, but factoring in one of the most inexperienced rosters doesn't bode well for a fast start to a season.
Several close games vs. quality competition
Losing by one point, in reality, is the same as losing by 30, but not every loss is the same. The Rockets have had leads at the half vs. the Lakers, Suns, and Nuggets. They have losses where they had a chance to win the game with a basket in two of those games, and 3-7 may not seem like a big difference, but it looks a lot better than 1-9.
Losing close games to quality teams goes a long way in accelerating a young team’s development. The more you face quality competition, especially in close games, the faster you improve on mistakes that keep you from winning those games. Jalen Green played only 15 games in the G- League, Kevin Porter Jr. hasn't even played half a year total as a point guard. These games vs. top competition are essential for them to take the next step.
Make no mistake, the Rockets aren't contenders this year and probably won't win more than 25 games (that's high end). The record, though, doesn't reflect the level of talent and how hard this team plays. But, by the start of 2022, the record may start to reflect the potential of this team a lot better than their current 1-9 mark.