In 54 years of Houston Rockets basketball, I don’t know if there’s been a season quite as bizarre as this one.
13 new players, a new head coach, two former All-Stars requesting trades, a six-game winning streak, a seven-game losing streak and injuries to just about every player on the roster. And the season isn’t even halfway over.
The season looked promising after a win in Memphis two weeks ago crowned the Rockets winners in seven of their previous eight games, but it came with a cost after Christian Wood re-injured his ankle, which has forced him to miss the previous seven games, all losses.
Majority of these losses have been brutal with the Rockets usually trailing by 20 or more, but the team has mounted clawed back into most of these games, with the most impressive comeback attempt coming last night against the 76ers. The team trailed by as much as 29 and cut the deficit to as little as four in the waning minutes of the game.
Losing Wood has significantly hurt the Rockets on defense. The team has given up 110 points or more in six of the games on this losing streak. Between the Harden trade and the Wood injury, the Rockets only gave up 110 points or more twice in 12 games.
Without Wood, the Rockets have been stuck outside with no log cabin for the winter, which has caused them to freeze.
But even though the Rockets are frozen, the league still trucks on. The Rockets have fallen from inside the playoff picture to 13th place in the Western Conference. And with the team on its longest losing streak since the 2012-13 season, fans are left wondering if the team should punt the season, hope the ping pong balls give the Rockets a high draft selection they can keep and restructure this team with Wood and the incoming draft pick.
If the Rockets do end up with one of the four worst records in the league, they aren’t even guaranteed a spot in the Top 4 in the Draft. Should they fall out of the Top 4, the pick goes to Oklahoma City as part of the infamous Chris Paul-Russell Westbrook trade and the Rockets get Miami’s selection.
On the other side of the coin, the Rockets are only four games back from the 8th seed and two games back from the play-in series. With more than half the season left to go, postseason basketball is still not out of the question for the Rockets.
While the Rockets are clearly struggling, you can tell there is still a spark there. That was evidenced in Wednesday night’s near-comeback against the Sixers.
The Trade Deadline is five weeks from today, and the Rockets have until then to decide which direction they want this team to go in for the rest of the year. They have a ton of tradable assets that contending teams would likely be intrigued by, including Victor Oladipo and P.J. Tucker.
However, even if the Rockets part ways with them, there is still a competitive team in the mix that will be here following the deadline. It might not be a team that can win the Finals, but it’s a competitive team nonetheless.
When it comes to fixing this team, there’s no real answer right now. It’s hard to evaluate this team when most of its key contributors are sidelined and time is ticking. I don’t envy GM Rafael Stone’s job, as its a tricky one, though most of his decisions have proven successful so far in his first few months on the job.
As we have come to know, luck is a major factor when it comes to the NBA, and luck has not been on the Rockets side recently, so perhaps Houston is due some good fortunes.
What Wood you do with the Rockets right now?
This poll is closed
Punt the season, pray to the ping pong ball gods
Grind it out, fight for one of the final playoff spots