Despite their struggles, the Houston Rockets need to shoot more. (Photo : YouTube)
After starting off the season on fire, sporting a brand new superstar in James Harden and a 2-0 start to the season, the Houston Rockets' shooting has gone ice cold.
Over their last four games, Houston's field goal percentage has dropped to near the bottom of the 30-team league at No. 27, according to ESPN stats. Out of an average of 87.3 field goals they attempt each game, they are only hitting 35.5 of them, resulting in an anemic .451 team field goal percentage.
Of the three who take the most field goal attempts - Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Patrick Patterson - Harden is shooting the ball at a respectable .494 percent, while Patterson is shooting for .450 percent on an average of 13 shot attempts. Lin, however, is struggling to find his stroke, making only an average of 4.5 of his 12.5 shots in the last four games to tally a paltry .360 field goal average.
There are a lot of things the Rockets still need too fix. They need to pass the ball more, as they rank only 16th in the league in assists, with only 21.8 of them to their credit. While their 50.5 team rebounds ranks an impressive second place in the NBA, Houston's defense, allowing 96.5 points by opponents in the last four games, matches their team's overall point tally, which is not a formula for success.
"Our league comes down to a lot of stuff," coach Kevin McHale told the Houston Chronicle. "A lot of it is effort; a lot is five guys working together. Offensively, sometimes it comes down to a make-or-miss league. A lot of games come down to the last five shots of the game. ... Sometimes you have to make some shots."
And yet, here's a thought-could part of the solution to their shooting conundrum simply be...shooting more?
Absolutely, working on their passing and getting more assists will play a large factor into their shooting percentage ticking upwards. But with only four games under their belt with a new star in Harden, a new star backcourt tandem of Harden and Lin, and an overall brand new team, maybe the answer is just to shoot their way out of it.
After all, there's no better remedy for getting back into the swing of things in sports than by repetition. Harden, with a career percentage of .446 from the field, is already averaging about what he was when his sensational play for Oklahoma City netted him the league's Sixth Man of the Year last year, and if he keeps up this pace, he will be a very difficult player to stop.
Meanwhile, while Lin has noticeably been off his game since returning from leg surgery in the offseason, it might just be that the NBA crowd favorite will find his stroke with more playing time as he gets the feel for a new offense with new teammates.
Lin certainly doesn't seem discouraged in either himself or his teammates despite their shooting woes.
"We know what is a good shot to us, and that's layups, free throws, open 3s," Lin said to the Chronicle. "We haven't been hitting them, but it's only four games in. I have to keep that perspective. We have to keep that perspective. We've gone through a tough stretch. Unfortunately, it's the start of the season, so it seems like all we've known. We just got to turn it around."
The way Harden sees it, his team's shooting will improve once the Rockets find their stroke from downtown. A tough task, given that they are shooting an abysmal .267 from three-point territory.
"Once we start knocking down 3s, it will open everything else up," Harden said. "Stay in the game and work on our shots. I had an idea how they were going to guard me from last year, being in the Finals. It's just a matter of making shots, making plays. "
Making shots, and taking them. They had a lot of open shots in Wednesday's loss against Denver. The message that McHale had for his team, as he told the Chronicle, was simple-keep taking the open shots.
"We have to take open shots," McHale said. "If you don't take open shots, what are you going to do, not take open shots to take worse shots? We're going to knock them down. I'm convinced of that."