It wasn’t too long ago that the Houston Rockets were up 3-2 on the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals with an amazing chance to go to the NBA Finals and win a championship before they inevitably lost after Chris Paul got injured. So, who’d think the Rockets wouldn’t have another good chance in the 2018-19 season even while losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute? The minority opinion (including myself) got that one right.
Losing 2 role players shouldn’t affect your chances of having the same success as last season…..right? Dead wrong. Both Trevor Ariza (especially Ariza) and Luc Mbah a Moute we’re both perfect for the Rockets system as they were capable of switching and defending 1-4, not to mention they could hit the sufficiently enough considering the Rocket’s high clip.
- Trevor Ariza 2018-19 3 Pt. % [36.0%]
- Luc Mbah a Moute 2018-19 3 Pt. % [33.3%]
But losing both of them wasn’t the only mistake they made. They proceeded to pay 33 year old Chris Paul a 4 year $160M max deal who’s only degressing, but let’s not begin to explain why that was a horrible idea. Yet, they continued to make question decisions like replacing the two “3 and D” forwards they lost with Carmelo Anthony and Michael Carter-Williams. Melo wasn’t a bad pickup in general, but there was no way he was replacing the defense that Ariza brought and he isn’t exactly fitted to the Rockets play style. Michael Carter-Williams has been a huge disappoint since his rookie season as he can’t shoot well (though he is shooting 37.5% from the three this year though that’s one 1 attempt a game playing only 15 games), can’t finish well, and has average defense at best. The only real positive he has is “switchability” though that really isn’t a true strength since he’s not a great defender.
With that being said, the Rockets have to adjust which is another reason they’re losing. They are still shooting the most 3’s in the league at 41.4 per game and take layups which is their philosophy. Problem is, they aren’t efficient enough from 3 as they’re shooting 34.0% for 24th best in the league and that won’t win games. Not only that, but considering opponents are shooting 35.3% from 3 on them and they’re in the bottom half at 19th in OPPg. They’re not playing championship basketball on either side and honestly could miss the playoffs at this rate as they aren’t even top 8 in western conference standings. At this point winning a championship is a long shot and that’s an understatement, but if the Rockets can somehow improve their defense and shoot more efficiently, then they could make a possible run in the playoffs.
Overall, spending too much money on a player that’s aging, losing 2 great system players, not replacing them well, and having to adjust when while getting out of your comfort zone is NOT a championship winning formula. Hopefully the Rockets learn from their mistakes as their only window for a championship anytime soon very much may have just slipped out of their grasp.