As Bill Parcell's once famously said, 'you are what your record says you are'. If that's true, the Rockets are the worst team in the Western Conference; or at least tied for that spot. In most situations, I agree with the Parcells quote, but I don't think it applies to the Rockets this season. The Rockets played 9 playoff teams in their first 10 games and went 3-7; a bad record no doubt, but even the Heat would probably go 6-4 at best. So what did we find out during the first 10 games? That the Rockets aren't among the NBA elite, we already knew that. The hope for this season was to return to the playoffs and I still think that they will. Their record on paper looks bad, but the schedule is about to get much easier and I think they'll rebound.
Take a look at this quote from Daryl Morey before the season to Jason Friedman of Rockets.com, "It won’t be apparent that we’re in the mix for the first ten games at least and maybe even longer because we’re probably going to have to dig out of where we’re at a little bit because we’re definitely playing the hardest schedule in the league for the first ten games and then, on top of that, we’re playing teams with a lot of continuity generally and I think that edge is going to be huge early – even more than it would normally be. Boo-hoo, right? This is going to sound like an excuse. We have to fight through it. But I’m just laying out that I want people to stick with us because we’ll be fine if we get through this early part and we can build on that. But we won’t be able to fool ourselves. No one’s going to feel like we’re a great team after our first ten games because we’re going to play a schedule that even very good teams would probably be only .500 against. If we go 5-5 we’ll be on pace for the playoffs for sure – that would be a very good result. Then 4-6 would probably be what a playoff team would do against this schedule. Even honestly – and we don’t want to do this – but 3-7 would be one we can recover from and still make the playoffs."
I agree with Morey. This team may miss the playoffs, but I'm not ready to declare that after the first 10 games. If they had been blown out in every loss, maybe I'd be more pessimistic, but their last two losses came in overtime on the road vs. the Spurs, and a 3 point loss to the Thunder without Lowry or Lee. This team isn't that far from being 5-5 right now and having people feel good about their chances. Even at 3-7 there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. They're getting healthier with Lowry already back, Lee returning this weekend, and Patrick Patterson starting to round into shape. On top of that they're schedule gets light years easier. Starting with their game on Monday vs. Washington, the Rockets next 9 games come against teams with a combined 25-45 record; and that doesn't include a home game against 4-7 Sacramento tonight.
Lowry, Scola, and Martin are consistent, and with young guys like Hill, Patterson, and even Chandler Parsons coming on, the future looks bright. Hang tight Rockets fans, the road has been bumpy, but it's about to get smoother.