The Houston Rockets, as we all know by now, will not be participating in the upcoming NBA Playoffs. However, that doesn't mean we shouldn't take a look at how well players on the team performed compared to their teammates.
It's only six games left in the season for the Rockets, and when you look at who leads the team in specific categories, it will give you a good idea of how each player performed throughout the year. In the era of analytical-driven arguments and more and more franchises taking a deep dive into these numbers, the amount of data available is at an all-time high.
You have your standard statistics, for instance, points per game, rebounds, and assists — but for this article, we will look at three advanced statistics and who leads the team in each category. Sometimes diving deeper into the numbers can give you a better idea of how certain players perform during the year. Keep in mind some players may have a higher offensive rating, for example, but may not have played enough games to qualify.
Also, there are six games left, so some of these stats could change, but not by much.
The Rockets may have been one of the worst defensive teams in the league, but offensively they have had plenty of good moments. So when you look at the Rockets’ leaders in this category, it comes as a bit of a surprise that Mathews is number one.
Mathews leads the Rockets with an offensive rating of 109.6 (among qualifying players). Mathews took Rockets Twitter by storm the first few weeks with the team. He was not signed by any team to start the year and was brought in by the Rockets to play on their G-League affiliate team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Mathews played well enough for the Rockets to bring him up from the G-League. He continued his excellent play so much that he earned the nickname "Garry Bird," a name coined by Winston Cadenas, a staple of Rockets Twitter. The Rockets were impressed and signed Mathews to a standard four-year deal.
Mathews has struggled the last several weeks with his three-point shooting and has seen his time diminish with the Rockets opting to play their rookies more. Even with the struggles, Mathews has been one of the better Rockets from deep throughout the season. Mathews is shooting 35.8 percent from deep on the season while taking a career-high in three-pointers per game at 5.9 a contest.
True Shooting percentage
True shooting percentage is one of the best ways to measure a player's overall shooting efficiency. It takes into account three-point shooting, free-throw shooting, and overall field goal percentage. The leader for the Rockets in this category is Eric Gordon at 61.4 percent. Gordon is shooting 41.2 percent from 3-point range, .778 percent from the free-throw line, and .475 percent overall. Gordon has been shut down for the year, so this will be his final stat lines of the season.
There was a dramatic turnaround from two years ago when Gordon had the worst shooting year of his career. Injuries derailed most of last season for Gordon, but he showed again this year that he is one of the best shooters in the league. Many were surprised that Gordon made it past the deadline without being traded, but he will likely be traded this offseason. Even if that is the case, he has cemented himself as one of the most important Rockets of the last 20 years.
Side note: KJ Martin Jr. is currently second at 60.7, which shows that he should be in the starting lineup next year, barring a trade for a star-level forward.
Before we go into the numbers, I am sure some people will say, "What about Dennis Schroder?" Schroder does have the higher defensive rating, but he has only played in 15 games for the Rockets, so he doesn't qualify.
Jae'Sean has been one of the most consistent Rockets since joining the team last year. However, Tate is, if not best, one of the best post players on the team. Tate can score against any defender, big or small, but he excels on the defensive end. You rarely see Tate out of position on defense and never can doubt his effort.
Even though Tate leads the league in fouls, that never limits his aggressiveness. So it is not a surprise Tate leads the tea in defensive rating at 113.3. That isn't a number near the top of the NBA, but when you are on the worst defensive team in the league, 113.1 is a really good number. The Rockets will not win consistently until they play defense consistently. When and if that happens, you know that Tate will be at the forefront of that turnaround, whether he is a starter or the sixth man.
If you put these numbers against the rest of the league, it may not seem that impressive, but you have to celebrate the small victories when you can on a rebuilding team. Hopefully, we are talking about Rockets players leading the league in these categories in the near future.