Houston Rockets: Team defense has taken an early deep nosedive

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets’ team defense has taken a nosedive year-over-year from the previous season. What’s going on? Let’s talk about this for a bit.

Houston Rockets fans — we’re seven games into the season and the team is hovering right at the .500 mark with a 4-3 record.  This is about where I expected them this season as the rapport between James Harden and Russell Westbrook on the court is still underway.

I don’t think it will be detrimental to the team as I think things will get rolling before the end of December but it’s going to take more time as these dominant scorers find a way not to step on each other’s toes.  Westbrook continues his massive stats production with two triple-doubles and four double-doubles in 2019-20.

Harden has continued to struggle from the three-point line — averaging as low as 22.2 percent — but is making impressive strides to turn that stat around as well.

It’s all about these two picking the right spots in the offense and this is something that’s not impossible to get done.  They’ll both be working together like a well-oiled machine sooner than later.

Although many were skeptical about if such a scheme involving two ball-dominant guards could exist, so far the experiment has mixed results with hopes pinned on a massive improvement.  I still do see that taking place.

But the Houston Rockets defense is something that’s been less than desired so far.  It has tumbled to the point of taking a nosedive and they are now 29th in defensive efficiency — allowing 112.2 points per 100 possessions — versus hovering around the lower-middle of the pack for most of last season.

To no surprise, Tyson Chandler leads the team in defensive rating (108) but Westbrook (110) and Harden (116) have slid from 103 and 108 respectively in 2018-19.

So who trails the Houston Rockets?

The Warriors are dead-last in defensive efficiency — allowing 114.8 points per 100 — as the championship blend of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson being on the shelf and Kevin Durant heading to the Brooklyn Nets via free agency.  The 2019-20 season will be tough without those guys on board — Curry will be out for a few months — so the chances of them making the playoffs will diminish vastly.

They are no longer the hot ticket as they once were and Bob Myers and Steve Kerr may start

More from House of Houston

waving the white flag early.

I’d expect the Houston Rockets to blow out the Warriors tonight with new acquisition D’Angelo Russell out but it remains to be seen how many points they’ll still give up in a likely rout.

The offense is holding at 9th, which is still holding strong and steady as far as efficiency, with the team averaging 106.7 points per 100.  They’re typically ranked among the Top 3 in offense but this is modest drop season-over-season.

The Houston Rockets parted ways with defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik — eventually being hired by the New Orleans Pelicans — and inserted Elston Turner as their expert.  He returns to the Houston Rockets‘ bench after coaching alongside Rick Adelman as the “defensive coordinator” from 2007-11.

Next. Rockets: Eric Gordon's injury woes still a good sign for team. dark

This is not a great start and the Houston Rockets know this.  It’s tough to tell if this team will improve on this stat or just try to outscore their opponent without regard to the points allowed.

Nonetheless, it’s not a winning strategy and hardly one for winning a championship.  It can help win a lot of games but not the ones that count for the grand prize of the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Can they turn things around?  We’re about to find out in due time — let’s hope it’s sooner than later.