NBA Western Power Rankings Week 5: Thunder thrive, Grizzlies rise

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Nov 30, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Houston Rockets head coach J.B. Bickerstaff walks away from referee Josh Tiven (58) during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Pistons win 116-105. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

10th: Houston Rockets (16 points)

By Jose Salviati

Record: 7-11

Record last week: 2-1

When you consider a team’s record against their pre-season expectations no club is a bigger disappointment than the Pelicans. The Rockets from Houston, however, come in a close second. After pinning the blame for a tough start on coach Kevin McHale the Rockets have gone an uninspiring 3-3 which includes a 2-1 record last week. Coming in at .500 is nothing to spectacular but it marks progress for the team that started 4-7 and was expected to contend the Western Conference crown.

James Harden is averaging a career-high in points (albeit on terrible efficiency) while Dwight Howard remains a force defensively. The problem isn’t the superstars. The problem for any team that isn’t playing up to its capabilities is often the fact that they aren’t yet a team. The job of molding these individual players into a cohesive team unit now falls on J.B. Bickerstaff. Head coach (for now) Bickerstaff lead the Rockets to wins over the 76ers and the suddenly not horrible New York Knicks. A loss to the Memphis Grizzlies rounds out their week. It’s Bickerstaff’s team (or group of individuals) for now, but the job may be someone else’s (Tom Thibodeau?) long-term.

Next: Phoenix Suns