Houston Rockets: Team’s tumultuous drop-off from last season is historic

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets drop-off has reached historic levels and it definitely was unexpected considering the team won 65 games last season. What gives? Look.

The Houston Rockets 11-14 start is one of the most mind-boggling stories of the NBA this season. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, the Houston Rockets were supposed to resume their high-level of play with a potent offense with stifling defense to boot.

Instead, the defense has taken a tremendous step back and the offense has regressed as well.  They’re now one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA and it shows each night out on the court.  How can such a precipitous fall be explained?  Is it chemistry?  Possibly.  Is the fact that nearly half a billion dollars is tied up among three players over the next five years?  Highly likely.

Don’t get me wrong, these three players are giving effort out on the court but is it enough to where they’d put themselves on the line to help this team win?  That’s debatable. With Chris Paul‘s four-year, $160 million deal, Clint Capela‘s five-year, $90 million pact and James Harden‘s $228 million extension through the 2022-23 season, that’s $478 million tied up to just three players.

The expectations are high for these players to perform to help the team win and for the most part, the stat sheet has been stuffed by these three men.  But are they efficient enough to make an impact to pad the “W” column?  I think that’s the situation here.  Paul, Capela and Harden were a plus/minus -3,-8 and -16 in Saturday’s disappointing 107-104 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

Eric Gordon has even sounded off publicly of what’s going on with the team, further the case that a trade needs to be made.  Who knows?  A potential pact could include him.  Mike D’Antoni is actually considering starting Gordon at the three to see if there is any additional production he can wean to get this team back on the right track again.

But any way, I just wanted to point out to you that the Houston Rockets are currently on pace to win 36 games this season, a far-cry from where they were at this point last season.  In fact, they’re just three losses away from their mark 2017-18 to which I do feel that’s something they’ll eclipse quite soon.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer wrote a terrific piece on how bad it has been for the Houston Rockets and he said that this team has had the third-worst drop-off after winning 60+ games the season previous.

Take a look at this graphic and see how they stack up:

The 2010-11 season for the Cleveland Cavaliers was an understandable one as LeBron James had

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departed for the Miami Heat to try to win a championship.  It was the off season of ballyhooed “the decision” as he decided to take his talents to South Beach.  That team finished 19-63 and it featured the aging Antawn Jamsion, as well as role players in Ryan Hollins, Jamario Moon and J.J. Hickson.  Yawn.

As far as the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan‘s second retirement was a devastating blow to the team after winning 62 games in 1997-98 and securing his final title to boot.  The Bulls finished 13-37 in 1998-99 while trying to build the team around Toni Kukoc and featuring stars such as Brent Barry and veteran Ron Harper.

And you know what?  This Houston Rockets team has NONE of that.  With the exception of the losses of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, the core of this team remains and it’s certainly something I’ve never seen before.  With the stats that O’Connor has pointed out, it’s trending toward unprecedented territory.

If this team doesn’t shape up quick, this season is likely going to be a notable trip of the draft lottery, something I didn’t expect to happen for at least half a decade from now.  But that possibility is looming and it certainly doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy inside about this team.

With the team currently in second-to-last place with the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference, they’ve got a lot of ground to cover and they need a win streak to catch up to the three games that they’re back behind those eight teams that would qualify if the playoffs started today.

Next. Carmelo Anthony has become what Daryl Morey has feared. dark

By the way, those eight teams currently are: the Oklahoma City Thunder (17-8), Golden State Warriors (19-9), Denver Nuggets (18-9), Los Angeles Clippers (17-9), Los Angeles Lakers (17-10), Memphis Grizzlies (15-11), Portland Trail Blazers (15-11) and the Mavericks (14-11).

Let’s hope for the best.