2015-16 NBA Previews – Rockets
The Houston Rockets look to build off a solid 2014-2015 season that saw them overcome many injuries and cold spells as they manage to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. With the offseason to heal the likes of Terrance Jones and Patrick Beverly, Houston has a legit chance at one of the top seeds in 2015-2016.
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Houston Rockets Season Preview
Head Coach: Kevin McHale
2014 Record: 56-26
Rockets Odds to NBA Title: +1600
Rockets Odds to Win Conference: +800
The Rockets did a lot to build around James Harden. Last season, Harden averaged 27.4 points per game, 7.0 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game. He was the clear cut reason for the Rockets’ success as he realistically did the damage by himself with so many injuries to the team.
Now with the new faces coming in, along with the health improving for Houston, does this Rockets team have what it takes to get over that hump and find themselves in the NBA Finals?
The Rockets’ strengths all stem from their offensively abilities. This team can throw up well above 100 points any given day and that starts and ends with James Harden.
With C Dwight Howard returning to 100%, he is just what this team needs inside to become a complete offensive threat.
Run and Gun
Houston rarely uses the full 24 on the shot clock on their offensive possessions. They like to outlet and go and that has been a successful style under Kevin McHale.
Last season, the Rockets were first in 3 pointers attempted and 3 pointers made. They were the 2nd fastest paced team in the league and were in last place in 2 point field goals attempted. Those numbers will get closer together with Dwight Howard remaining healthy. Howard does offer the ability to get down the floor quick for a big man which is vital for this offense.
Defense Wins Championships
With the overwhelming amount of points and 3 pointers Houston takes per game, their defense sometimes gets overlooked.
Led by James Harden and Trevor Ariza, the Houston Rockets finished 3rd in steals with 777. That averages out to 9.5 steals per game. That leads to many transition opportunities for this faced paced team which is exactly what they need and want.
The way to slow down the Rockets is simple and teams utilize this all the time, especially late in games…foul.
The Rockets offered a poor display of free throw shooting last season and struggled on a consistent basis.
Dwight Howard’s ability to get down the floor in a fast paced offense and be able to rebound is a crucial part to Houston.
However, teams recognize is poor shooting performance from the free throw line and will often put him there to take the Rockets offense out of rhythm. Last year, he shot just under 53% from the stripe.
Taking Care of the Rock
Houston forced the turnovers, but also turned the ball over way too much last season. That stems from their fast pace and wanting to heave the ball down the court to get in toward the basket quicker.
Houston committed 16.7 turnovers per game last year. That put them 3rd last in the NBA. Improving on that would be a giant step for this team as they would be able to get more 3 point attempts off.
Rockets Key Personnel Losses:
- Josh Smith, Pablo Prigioni, Nick Johnson
The Rockets front office and fans won’t lose sleep on any of these personnel losses in the offseason. The trio saw rarely any minutes and didn’t fit into the style of offense the Rockets run.
Rockets Top Newcomers:
- Ty Lawson, Sam Dekker, Marcus Thornton, Montrezl Harrell
The Rockets went out and traded for Ty Lawson, who offers the perfect compliment to this fast paced offensive strategy.
Following last season’s playoff exit, Harden made it aware that he wanted a ball handler signed or traded for to help the offense with their turnovers and to get it up the floor faster. Lawson offers just that with the ability to hit the 3.
Rockets 2015 Betting Prediction: 58-42
The addition of Lawson is one of the best offseason moves in the NBA. Lawson is the perfect point guard to call the shots and get the ball up court for the Rockets.
Lawson will make Harden a much better scorer too. This allows James Harden to not have to bring the ball up and he can get into his open spots behind the 3 point arc.
Houston is easily a top tier team and have a legit chance at a title with a healthy bunch.
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