The analytics movement isn’t isolated in just one place in the NBA, but Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, might be the biggest symbol and advocator of it, which has shaped his team in more than just the way they choose their players, but also in trying to control every aspect of the game, including the shooting of a superstar like James Harden.
The NBA is a league in which players often have more power than head coaches and even general managers, but the Rockets are Morey’s team from top to bottom. He has a head coach that might not be a basketball genius but is a living legend for his playing days, Kevin McHale. He also has a star and MVP candidate in James Harden who might seem like he’s doing whatever he wants on the court, but actually he’s following a plan.
And what is that plan? The Rockets are about shooting 3-pointers or layups. That’s the ideal. In short? Take high percentage shots as much as possible, eliminating the mid-range jump shot from their lexicon and making their offensive work result in the right shots. It’s working out fine in the regular season for the last couple of years, but the Rockets still haven’t gotten past the first round in the playoffs since Harden joined the team.
The Rockets launch more 3-pointers than anyone in the league, 33.9 per game. They make 34.7% of them, 14th in the NBA. They’re only 22nd in field goal percentage (43.8%) but their approach of also attacking the rim gets them to the line quite a lot, shooting 24.8 free throws per game. Their in the top half of the league in offensive efficiency, but not near the top. Morey’s plan is working ,but it also has to do with a much improved defense.
The Rockets force the worst 3-point shooting percentage in the league, are third-best in forcing turnovers and are 7th in allowed effective field goal percentage. Their interior defense when it comes to discipline on fouls and also boxing out on rebounds could be better, but overall it’s no surprise that they are closer to competing for the Western title than ever before, even with Howard out for so long.