NBA Western Power Rankings Week 3: Warriors storm ahead

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Nov 16, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) and guard Corey Brewer (33) walk off the court after loosing to the Boston Celtics at Toyota Center. Celtics won 111 to 95. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

11th: Houston Rockets (23 points)

By Tom West

Record: 4-7

Record last week: 0-3

At times for the Rockets, the only way they can defeat their opponents is behind a stellar performance from James Harden. When his shots aren’t falling, though, they can suffer heavily because of it. Yes, he’s putting up 28.4 points per game which ranks him 2nd in the NBA, but he’s taking an average of 21.3 shots at a 37.1 percent rate to get there. Add on his 24 percent three point shooting and the second most turnovers in the league (49 through 10 games), and it’s clear the Rockets haven’t been able to rely on their MVP to get them wins.

He’s simply been poor so far. Even though Dwight Howard has returned with 15 points, 12.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, the Rockets just haven’t taken off yet at either end of the floor. They’ve frequently been opting for a small ball lineup by surrounding Howard by four shooters in Ty Lawson, Marcus Thornton, Harden and Trevor Ariza. It seems to be the craze in today’s NBA after the Warriors displayed it so well last season, but it hasn’t been paying off for the Rockets so far.

Even when their shooters heat up from distance, their play on defense hasn’t backed it up. Specifically in the paint, they’ve allowed opponents to shoot a far too generous 63.2 percent within five feet of the basket (ranking them 29th in the NBA in that category). There’s just no way you can keep yourself in a game if you surrender such easy looks inside.

Their intensity and energy on both offense and defense has been low so far, and they rank 23rd in offensive and 29th in defensive efficiency because of it.

Next: Denver Nuggets