Mar 1, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets mascot Clutch runs onto the court before a game against the Detroit Pistons at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets: Grading The Proposed Rotation

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NBA fans rejoice. We’re only a mere 64 days out of the start of the greatest sport in the world (at least for us).

Being near the end of the offseason it’s only fair we start looking at team’s proposed rotations around the league. Today’s subject: The Houston Rockets.

A lot has been made about Rockets’ inability to shine or perform at the expected level during the offseason. The Rockets not only lost a cheap last year from rising star Chandler Parsons by not exercising a team option on his contract, they also became a widely unpopular destination among the league’s top free agents/trade targets–Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love–by not being able to land any of them despite having the cap space to do so.

They ultimately had to settle on signing Trevor Ariza and becoming the biggest bust in the 2014 offseason.

How bad a turn did they take in the Offseason, you ask? Let’s see.

1. What they could’ve had:

a) Chris Bosh

Rk Player G FG% 3P% 2P% FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
1 Patrick Beverley 97 .415 .365 .470 .818 1.2 1.9 3.1 2.8 1.2 0.5 1.1 8.3
2 Chris Bosh 796 .498 .310 .507 .800 2.3 6.4 8.7 2.0 0.8 1.1 2.1 19.2
3 James Harden 371 .445 .369 .499 .849 0.7 3.3 4.0 3.9 1.3 0.3 2.5 18.0
4 Dwight Howard 768 .579 .087 .581 .574 3.6 9.3 12.9 1.5 1.0 2.2 3.1 18.3
5 Chandler Parsons 213 .473 .370 .534 .705 1.1 4.1 5.2 3.3 1.1 0.4 1.7 14.1
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/25/2014.

Total Win Shares: 40.6

b) Carmelo Anthony

Rk Player G FG% 3P% 2P% FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
1 Carmelo Anthony 790 .455 .345 .476 .811 1.9 4.6 6.5 3.1 1.1 0.5 2.9 25.3
2 Patrick Beverley 97 .415 .365 .470 .818 1.2 1.9 3.1 2.8 1.2 0.5 1.1 8.3
3 James Harden 371 .445 .369 .499 .849 0.7 3.3 4.0 3.9 1.3 0.3 2.5 18.0
4 Dwight Howard 768 .579 .087 .581 .574 3.6 9.3 12.9 1.5 1.0 2.2 3.1 18.3
5 Terrence Jones 95 .532 .300 .573 .618 2.0 4.2 6.2 1.1 0.7 1.2 0.9 10.8
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/25/2014.

Total Win Shares: 43

c) LeBron James

Rk Player G FG% 3P% 2P% FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
1 Patrick Beverley 97 .415 .365 .470 .818 1.2 1.9 3.1 2.8 1.2 0.5 1.1 8.3
2 James Harden 371 .445 .369 .499 .849 0.7 3.3 4.0 3.9 1.3 0.3 2.5 18.0
3 Dwight Howard 768 .579 .087 .581 .574 3.6 9.3 12.9 1.5 1.0 2.2 3.1 18.3
4 LeBron James 842 .497 .341 .535 .747 1.2 6.0 7.2 6.9 1.7 0.8 3.3 27.5
5 Chandler Parsons 213 .473 .370 .534 .705 1.1 4.1 5.2 3.3 1.1 0.4 1.7 14.1
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/25/2014.

Total Win Shares: 48.5

2. What they ended up with:

Rk Player G FG% 3P% 2P% FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
1 Trevor Ariza 632 .434 .347 .474 .696 1.2 3.5 4.6 2.0 1.4 0.3 1.4 9.7
2 Patrick Beverley 97 .415 .365 .470 .818 1.2 1.9 3.1 2.8 1.2 0.5 1.1 8.3
3 James Harden 371 .445 .369 .499 .849 0.7 3.3 4.0 3.9 1.3 0.3 2.5 18.0
4 Dwight Howard 768 .579 .087 .581 .574 3.6 9.3 12.9 1.5 1.0 2.2 3.1 18.3
5 Terrence Jones 95 .532 .300 .573 .618 2.0 4.2 6.2 1.1 0.7 1.2 0.9 10.8
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/25/2014.

Total Win Shares: 40.3

So, had the Rockets succeeded at landing either LeBron, Bosh or Carmelo and assembling either of the schemes under No. 1, even in the Western Conference, they would’ve turned into instant title contenders.

To prove this here’s a look at the total win shares of the starting lineups for the top five teams in the Western Conference:

  1. San Antonio Spurs (Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw, Tim Duncan): 30.1 (Massive outlier. This just further proves the balance/depth of the Spurs. Jeez.)
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder (Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins): 37.8
  3. Los Angeles Clippers (Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan): 44.3
  4. Houston Rockets (Jeremy Lin, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones, Dwight Howard): 40.1
  5. Portland Trailblazers (Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldrige, Robin Lopez): 42.7

(Note: Win Shares based on the 2013-14 season. Win Shares might seem “low” but we’re only taking into consideration said stat for the players mentioned in any of the previous scenarios, not the ones provided by the bench.)

3. Houston Rockets Depth Chart: 2013-14 vs. 2014-15

2013-14:

2014-15:

  • C: Dwight Howard – Donatas Montiejunas
  • PF: Terrence Jones – Jeff AdrienJoey DorseyJosh Powell
  • SF: Trevor Ariza – Francisco Garcia – Alonso Gee – Robert Covington – Scotty Hopson
  • SG: James Harden – Troy Daniels – Nick Johnson
  • PG: Patrick Beverly – Isaiah Canaan – Ish Smith
  • Total Win Shares: 49.4

Skeptical on Win Shares? Sure, Win Shares are far from an exact science, but in teams whose starting lineup is far better than their bench (most teams in the league, including the Rockets), it tends to work pretty well.

However, skepticism aside, in a Western Conference where a six-game swing is enough to be left out of contention and the playoffs as a whole (Houston Rockets 54-28, Phoenix Suns 48-34) the Houston Rockets (16/1 to win the NBA championship according to Bovada.com) are clearly at loss.

Texas-sized offseason indeed.

Anyway, as badly as the Rockets might’ve wet the bed with their offseason by eventually ending up with a worse lineup than the one from the 2013-14 season, they’re still able to pursue point guard extraordinaire Eric Bledsoe at $48 million over four years.

Just kidding.

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Tags: 2014-15 Preview Houston Rockets

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