In an 11-31 season, the focus starts to go away from individual games and performances, and it switches to the organization's future. The Houston Rockets are in the midst of another bad stretch of basketball, only winning one out of their last nine games.
Even with the bad play and losses piling up, you can always find helpful information in the numbers. Specifically, five-person lineup statistics tell you the best and worst combination of lineups a team puts on the floor each night. Unfortunately, the Rockets, with all of their injuries, haven't had a considerable sample size when it comes to lineups, especially with their number two overall draft pick Jalen Green missing a big part of the season.
As the season goes on, we will get more of a sense of which lineups work best, but for now, here are the five-person lineups that work well together and the ones that have not worked at all this season.
The best five-man lineup for the Rockets
You may say what exactly could be considered best or good when talking about an 11-31 team? However, it is still good to dig deeper sometimes into the advanced numbers with a rebuilding team. Especially when evaluating a team long-term.
The best five-person lineup that has played at least five games or more together is Eric Gordon, Christian Wood, Kevin Porter Jr., Jae’Sean Tate, Alperen Sengun. This lineup has the best net rating on the team at plus 24.9. This lineup also has an 82.8 defensive rating. Of course, with most of the lineups in this article, the minute totals will probably not be significant.
As mentioned earlier, the Rockets have had so many different lineups that you won't find many combinations that have been on the court together for an extended period of time. This lineup has been on the floor for 11 minutes total, but it's still good to see what combination could work as this lineup also has the best pace of any group at 122.30.
The best five-person lineup that has played significant minutes together this year consists of Gordon, Wood, Armoni Brooks, Garrison Mathews, and Tate. They have played 97 minutes together, which is second on the team, and have a minus 2 net rating, which on a team that has already lost 31 games is pretty remarkable.
This lineup has done the best job of playing consistent basketball on both sides. Hence the almost even plus/minus.
The worst five-man lineup for the Rockets
When looking at the worst five-person lineups, you, of course, factor in offensive, defensive rating, and the pace the lineup plays at. The worst lineup consists of Gordon, Danuel House Jr., Brooks, Kenyon Martin Jr. and Sengun. Again it's a small sample size of only 15 minutes, and House was released several weeks ago, so you probably can't take too much from this stat.
This year, the lineup that has played together a reasonable amount of time and has the second-worst net rating at negative -36.8 consists of Gordon, Wood, Theis, Jalen Green, and Tate. They have played together 49 minutes this year and have a putrid 67 offensive rating.
We couldn't go an entire article without mentioning the infamous two big lineup. The five-person lineup of Wood, Daniel Theis, Porter Jr., Green, and Tate has played the most minutes together by a wide margin at 172 minutes and has a net rating of minus 26.1! Also, one of the slowest lineups at 101.65 pace. This lineup has been discussed all year and made another appearance ( unfortunately) last game vs. the 76ers.
The results were the same as they had been all year. The Rockets were run off the court, and the double big lineup had a negative 19.8 rating and under 97 pace in 12 minutes.
Side note the best lineup with Jalen Green is Gordon, Wood, Porter Jr., Green, and Tate who have played 93 minutes together and have a respectable minus 2.5 net rating
It goes without saying when a team is rebuilding, it will experiment with different combinations and strategies throughout a year. However, the Rockets are still trying to find the right lineup to maximize players like Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and Josh Christopher, three of the four draft picks from this past draft.
It takes time to build a winner, especially when you have several players under 21, and no doubt the Rockets know all of these numbers and more, so hopefully, we will start to see more statistics on the positive side and less on the negative.