After the Houston Rockets lost 120-100 to the Denver Nuggets, they fell to 5-16 on the season and currently have the worst record in the Western Conference. The Rockets have the third worst record in the league, and even with a brief two-game winning streak recently, it has been a struggle for most of the season.
Of course, the average statistics for the Rockets are hard to look at. Houston ranks 25th in points allowed per game, 28th in fast break points and 27th in assists. But look even deeper into the advanced stats; the picture looks just as bad or even worse in some categories. So here are some advanced stats that show why the Rockets could have the worst record in the NBA for the third year in a row.
Advanced stats for the Rockets 2022-2023 season so far
Rockets slow pace of play
Coming into the season, the Rockets said they wanted to emphasize playing at a faster pace. With players like Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr. and KJ Martin, this seemed like a no-brainer. The Rockets dont have a team full of great one-on-one players who can break down a defense, so getting out on the break makes sense. Unfortunately, that has not been the case this year. Here are some of the Rockets' pace of play rankings for the year. You will see a common theme right away.
Pace in seconds after miss
11.54 - Ranked 29th
Pace off missed shots at the rim
10.13 - Ranked 28th
Points per possession after timeouts
0.85 - Ranked 30th
Pace after rebounds
10.13 - Ranked 28th
Sometimes for fastbreak points, it can be explained away by saying the team doesn't get enough stops. These stats, however, are based on pace after misses, and as you see, the Rockets do not push the ball nearly enough. They are one of the worst teams in the league in pace and are at the bottom in fast break points overall.
The pace after rebounds sticks out because the Rockets are one of the league's better rebounding teams, which means they have plenty of opportunities for easy baskets. For the Rockets to have a chance in most games, they must play faster. They are not a half-court team. They don’t move the ball well enough and are the worst team in the league in turnovers. The more you hold the ball, the more likely you will turn it over.
Rockets advanced shooting stats
The Rockets have struggled to get the ball in the basket all year. It seems the closer to the rim the Rockets get, the more their percentages drop. Outside the arch, the Rockets are middle of the pack, but mid-range in, they are at the bottom of the league. They are:
27th in effective field goal percentage
25th in rim percentage (shots within four feet)
30th in mid-range shot percentage
The Rockets have had multiple games where they either missed dunks or missed easy layups. This is a bit of a surprise, considering the athletes on the team. The Rockets have been taking more mid-range shots the last couple of years post-James Harden, but unfortunately, it hasn't led to much success far as the number of made shots. The lack of makes at the rim can be attributed to not having a lob threat at center. Bruno Fernando was supposed to be the answer, but he has battled injuries all year.
The Rockets are not taking the right type of shots
As mentioned earlier, the Rockets are actually middle of the pack regarding the three-point percentage. They have had games where they shot over 50 percent from deep, and the shooting from the three-point line has been one of the few things that they haven't had to worry about night in and night out.
Corner three-pointers attempted
The Rockets, however, could be doing even better than their current 16th ranking in three-point percentage. The corner three has long been said to be the best three-point shot on the court. It is the shortest and easiest to pass from the post or off the drive. P.J. Tucker lived in the corner his years playing for the Rockets, and good offenses know how to utilize this part of the court.
The Rockets, however, have not taken advantage of this shot. They are currently last in corner three-point attempts. For an offense that struggles to score in the paint, the corner three should be a more significant weapon for them. It would help players like Jabari Smith, who has struggled at times from deep, get an easier look. Even Alperen Sengun would benefit from the corner three-pointer as he tries to expand his game. The Rockets have to do whatever it takes to get easier baskets because it is a struggle almost every time down the court.
Yes, the eye test can quickly tell you the Rockets have a long way to go. They have made progress in some areas, like free throw shooting and Jalen Green becoming a better playmaker and rebounding, but the eye test and advanced stats both suggest a lot more work needs to be done.