NBA Analysis: Rockets Stuck in "Average" Mode

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With Chuck Hayes executing the patented Rockets ankle sprain at a key point in the season, Houston has lost their sole defensive presence and is about to start a very turbulent stretch of their schedule.  Aaron Brooks appears to have lost his mojo upon returning to the active roster and has yet to best his starting spot from Kyle Lowry in almost ten games.  Aaron is taking less shots, most of them from the outside, and really looking passive.  His ability to stop on a dime is gone as well as his ability to hit the nitrous oxide when driving to the rack.

With the loss of Chuck Hayes, rookie forward Patrick Patterson has been given a spot in the rotation and while it has only been a couple of games he seems to be flourishing.  In his first significant minutes Patterson racked up a double double in 25 minutes (15 points, 10 rebounds, 1 block). 

At the start of the season I, like many Rockets fans, was confused why we would draft an NBA ready prospect with our lottery pick and then turn around and send him to the D-League.  Now the moves are starting to make sense. 

Patterson is stroking the midrange ball, attacking the rim, playing arguably the best post defense on our team, and most importantly grabbing those rebounds.  In the last three games, Patrick Patterson of Kentucky fame is averaging 7.7 rebounds in 24 minutes.  Patterson even had one of the best defensive stops I’ve seen all season long against Carmelo Anthony who tried to finish around the 6 foot 9 inch rookie only to be denied with enthusiasm.  I’m loving what Patrick brings to the table but he’s not going to win us any games just yet.  Jordan Hill has taken Chuck Hayes spot in the starting lineup and has proved almost nothing.  There’s no urgency to his game and he always seems to be a second too late on his defensive rotations.  Given he’s such a long and athletic physical specimen, I want to see more blocked shots and help defense.  Jordan also needs to look for his own more and needs to continue to refine his post game and stop settling for jumpers.

Chase Budinger seems to have broken out of his sophomore slump and is hitting double figures with consistency while shooting a high percentage from the arc.  For the first time this season I’m upset that Rick Adelman hasn’t given Chase more looks.  Terrence Williams had his first time on the floor as a Rocket in some garbage minutes at the end of a blowout.  TWill was looking to showcase his court vision and did not fail to do so.  If Houston had been able to finish Williams might have finished with 4 assists in a matter of minutes.  The problem for Williams is there is no room in the rotation right now with both Courtney Lee and Chase Budinger playing at a high level as backups.  There is no urgency to solving this problem just yet as Terrance knows he’s a part of the Rocket’s future plans and trades are more than likely to occur before the deadline.

In summation, Houston is not well poised to stomach the roughest part of their schedule.  While there have been some bright spots in our young prospects, our starters are still struggling and Rick Adelman has to continue to tamper with his rotations in order to fill the surprisingly large void left by Chuck Hayes.  Injuries have taken their effect all around the league, notably with the Mavs, Trail Blazers, and Celtics, and Houston isn’t alone in their struggle to remain healthy.  All we can really do from this point forward is sit back and see what kind of roster moves Daryl Morey has in store for us.