Sports Illustrated's Britt Robson recently went through every team in the NBA and gave them a mid-season grade. For the Houston Rockets, who, as of Monday, had a record of 19-14 placing them in sixth place in the Western Conference (third in the Southwest Division), Robson awarded a B+.
Despite the coaching change from Rick Adelman to Kevin McHale and general manager Daryl Morey's dogged offseason efforts, the Rockets find themselves in a remarkably similar place as last season -- they are an offensive-oriented team that is deep with talent but lacks a bona fide star and is scrapping for a playoff berth. The last-minute acquisition of Samuel Dalembert has been extremely important for a team that has trouble defending the paint. And defense matters: Houston scores five more points in victories compared to losses, but it allows 17 fewer points. Along with Dalembert, credit McHale for the slight uptick in defensive efficiency (from 19th to 16th). By giving unheralded rookie Chandler Parsons ample playing time, McHale sends the message that defense is a priority.
The NBA season is only halfway over and as long as the Rockets continue to do what they did in the first half of the season throughout the next few weeks, they should be in good shape when it comes time for the playoffs.
For more on the Rockets, head to The Dream Shake.