As the season gets close to hitting the halfway mark, it’s pretty obvious where The Houston Rockets stand within the league. Many predicted that this elite, sharpshooting team would be in the middle of the pack by now this far into the season. What many have failed to realize were obvious points. To start, the switch of Hardens role from Shooting Guard to Point Guard has been key as he’s been more effective and more efficient. This role has allowed him to bring out the best in his game, and has allowed him to control the offense the way he has been requesting in the previous years. This lets him take over the game and get his team involved much more productively. He can create shots by driving the lane, which leaves guys like Anderson, Beverley, or Ariza wide open. This brings more attention towards him, and less on others, which allows this Houston team to get into a defenses head by their ability to score. Second, Mike D’Antoni and his system has worked. It’s being proven right before our eyes that if you can buy into his system, give him the styled players preferred and trust his ethics that good things can be granted for the team. Not only has the team been successful on the court, but we see a brand new connection within the locker room. The roster is finally acting like a team should and have created such a bond that can’t be broken on and off the court.
For the first time we have witnessed them happy, and actually having fun with what they are doing. The defensive ratings have gone up and Harden, yes Harden has stepped up his defensive presence for the team’s sake. In previous years, the motto of “live by the three, die by the three” has haunted Houston terribly when it mattered but we’ve never seen efficiency like this in the past. Yes, they have taken more shots, but the point being is that, well, they are actually making them. They have gotten into a groove where they feel as if nobody can stop them. This is a big key point because confidence is within each and every player, and gives them something to play for. Finally, the starters and bench has stepped up with guard Eric Gordon leading the way. His ability to take over a game gives you a reminder of how dangerous he was before the injuries, and he seems to be getting back to his old ways. He now leads the league in three pointers, and cannot be stopped. The way the team has been playing lets you feel comfortable when Harden is taking a rest on the bench. They kind of give you a sign of relief that even though we only have one superstar, we got guys who understand their role, and are willing to play their part to help this team’s success. This is such an unselfish group of guys and starts with the leader James Harden. He always finds ways to get his teammates involved and his numbers back him up. Averaging about 12 assists a game is a reason why his team sits 3rd in the wild wild Western Conference. With a long way ahead of them, this Houston team has so much more to prove but with the way things are going and the way they have handled obstacles, it seems as if they can overcome anything thrown at them.
Written by: David Martinez