Final Regular Season Grades for Every Houston Rockets Player
The Houston Rockets have had their ups and downs throughout their 82-game journey, but the fun is only beginning. Before we get to the playoffs, let's take a quick look back at how each player performed in the regular season.
Some guys were a bit inconsistent, like Francisco Garcia and Omri Casspi. Other guys didn't get many chances but found themselves on the big-league roster at the end of the season, like Isaiah Canaan and Troy Daniels.
The long and winding road of the NBA season has finally come to an end. The Rockets clinched their first-round home-court advantage and are looking ahead to what should shape up to be a very exciting series with the Portland Trail Blazers.
But first, here are the regular-season grades for each Houston Rocket. We'll begin with the starters, then look at some key role players and finish it off with a look at the youngsters. Grades are based on how well each player performed in their expected role on the team.
All stats are from ESPN.com unless otherwise noted and are accurate as of April 16, 2014.
Points per game: 10.2
Rebounds per game: 3.5
Assists per game: 2.7
Ever since Beverley won the starting job in the offseason, he has become a pivotal part of this Rockets team. He is the Rockets' best perimeter defender and works well with Harden in the backcourt as an off-ball guard. Beverley also has the intangibles like hustle and fearlessness that Houston will need in the playoffs.
This season, Bev's defense was crucial for Houston against teams with talented point guards. This is a golden age for point guards in the NBA, with plenty of dangerous facilitators around the league. Thankfully for the Rockets, Beverley has shut down plenty of opposing guards all season long with his pesky, all-out hustle on defense.
His only big flaw this season was crossing a line with his aggression when matching up defensively. Beverley had a lot of unnecessary fouls that cost his team, including on shooters from behind the three-point line. His 35.7 percent three-point shooting also could have been higher in the Rockets three-point-happy offense.
Despite injuries to his knee and hand that caused him to miss a good chunk of time, Bev still made his presence felt for Houston during their climb in the Western Conference. Rockets fans are ecstatic that his torn meniscus wasn't too serious and that he will be on the court for the playoffs. Without him, the Rockets would have huge shoes to fill in terms of defense and energy.
Points per game: 25.4
Rebounds per game: 4.7
Assists per game: 6.1
Harden has been the go-to guy all season long for the Rockets and has thrived in that role. Harden's performance this season may earn him a spot on the All-NBA first team as the best shooting guard in the league.
After a bit of a rocky start with a nagging foot injury, Harden finally got healthy, and his game took off. Following his start in the All-Star game, Harden averaged 27.7 points and 7.4 assists a night to finish off the season. Also throw in nearly two steals a game; this guy was as good as it gets.
The best part about Harden's superstar season was his success in the clutch. In a five-point game or less with just five minutes to go, Harden has the second-most points in the league in that situation, giving him the second-highest clutch rating in the NBA behind only Kyrie Irving, per NBA.com.
Harden had numerous game-winners and other big-time shots to lift the Rockets in close situations. It's one thing to be a superstar in the first three quarters, but that role takes on a whole new meaning in the final frame.
Harden became just the fourth player in franchise history to average 25 points per game in back-to-back seasons, joining Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone and Hakeem Olajuwon. The Beard is certainly in some elite company right now in Houston.
Points per game: 16.6
Rebounds per game: 5.5
Assists per game: 4.0
Parsons ended the season on a sour note after getting banged up throughout the course of the season. However, it's obvious that the Rockets really struggle in his absence.
"Chandler Bang" is that critical glue guy who really enhances the Rockets' system. He is very athletic and can attack the basket, while his 37.0 three-point percentage is always a threat. He provides a flow for the offense that wound up scoring the second-most points per contest in the NBA.
Parsons had some hotter and cooler stretches this season, but even when his shots aren't falling, he still has unique playmaking ability that gives the Rockets a big boost.
The Rockets need a third star to join forces with Harden and Howard, and Parsons proved this season that he has what it takes to be that third guy.
Points per game: 12.1
Rebounds per game: 6.9
Assists per game: 1.1
The Rockets thought they would need an upgrade at power forward to start the season, but they are thrilled that they were wrong. Terrence Jones has filled in brilliantly at power forward alongside Dwight Howard.
Many people did not know who the starter would be to begin the season, and once the coaching staff gave up on starting Omer Asik and Howard together, Jones got the nod. He did not disappoint. Jones had a career year, including a few games where he scored over 30 points.
Jones is a lengthy athlete who can stretch the floor at the four spot. He proved this season that he could play solid interior defense, averaging 1.3 blocks per game, and he can really make things happen on offense. He can attack the basket well for a man his size and runs well in transition.
T-Jones just might be an X-factor in the playoffs. With all of the star power surrounding him, he has a great opportunity to become a matchup nightmare against certain teams in the West.
Points per game: 18.4
Rebounds per game: 12.3
Assists per game: 1.8
He had a nightmare season in L.A., then he came to Houston, now he's happy. Blah, blah, blah. We've heard all of that.
The truth of the matter is, Howard's shoulders and back are finally strong, and despite a minor cyst in his ankle, the big man is finally healthy. Dwight has returned to his dominant ways, especially once he got acclimated to the system and developed chemistry with his partner in crime, James Harden.
Howard turned a terrible defensive team into a top-10 defensive team in terms of efficiency. He is so effective in the paint, altering every shot in his general vicinity. He blocked 1.8 shots per game, but even on shots he didn't get to he made that player think twice before attacking the basket.
This Rockets team is a bit reminiscent of the Orlando Magic team that reached the Finals with Dwight back in 2009. The big man is dominating the paint and the glass, and he is surrounded by a handful of shooters. However, this time around, he has superstar Harden backing him up.
If Dwight can assert his dominance in the playoffs like he did many times this season, it could be a magical postseason for Houston—2009 magical.
Points per game: 12.5
Rebounds per game: 2.6
Assists per game: 4.1
After losing his starting role, Jeremy Lin did a great job providing a spark for the second unit all season long.
Lin has revitalized his career by coming off the bench. With Linsanity a thing of the past, Lin has become a key contributor in the Rockets' system. Every time the offense gets stagnant, coach Kevin McHale likes to throw Jeremy in the mix and let him pick up the pace.
It wasn't all fun and games for Lin this season. He did get to start 33 games this year with Beverley out, but he also missed a handful of games himself with injuries.
Lin is also a very streaky player. Sometimes his shots are falling and his rhythm is smooth on offense, but sometimes he can't seem to make anything and forces too many passes, resulting in turnovers.
He shot 35.8 percent from deep this season, which is better than his career average. He definitely is improving, but the Rockets would love it if that percentage can continue to crawl even higher.
Hopefully, the Rockets will get Lin at his best in the playoffs. He can be a very valuable asset coming off the bench.
Points per game: 5.8
Rebounds per game: 7.9
Assists per game: 0.5
After all of the trade rumors and drama that went down with Omer Asik, he actually finished off the season on a positive note. He especially got to show off that he is still a top-tier defensive center in the games that Howard sat out with that ankle cyst.
Asik is still a very serviceable player. Unfortunately, he was not happy with his role coming off the bench and missed two months with a mysterious thigh injury. However, once the trade deadline passed and Asik was still in Houston, he had no choice but to return to basketball and play his hardest.
The Big O played just one game in December and missed all of January, but his post All-Star game stats were a really big improvement at 7.2 points and 8.9 boards a game. When Howard sat out, Asik was able to get a new career high in rebounds with 23, a feat which he pulled off twice.
Asik definitely has talent, but he just needs to have the right attitude moving forward. He gives the Rockets 48 minutes of elite rim-protection when Howard needs a rest, which is tremendously valuable for Houston.
Points per game: 5.4
Rebounds per game: 3.5
Assists per game: 0.6
Donatas Motiejunas was also in the conversation for starting power forward at the beginning of the year. He didn't win the job but did prove himself to be a solid role player off the bench.
There was one rough patch when D-Mo was complaining about his playing time and got sent down to the D-League for a very brief stint. After that incident, Motiejunas got his opportunity and showed the coaches that he deserves to be in the rotation.
Motiejunas is very crafty in the post. He has some nice, quick moves down low and a jaw-dropping hook shot that goes in more than you would expect. His defense and rebounding need work, but he's still transitioning to the NBA after coming over from Europe.
McHale loves D-Mo for his hustle and his smarts. When the offense is stagnant, Motiejunas always moves the ball and looks to make the smart play. He will see the court for a good amount of time in the playoffs.
Points per game: 5.7
Rebounds per game: 2.2
Assists per game: 1.1
After such an uplifting performance in the playoffs last season, fans had higher expectations for Garcia coming into this year.
Garcia had a disappointing season overall. He shot 35.8 percent from behind the arc, but earlier on in the season it was worse. For someone who has made a career at hitting threes, Garcia was not getting the job done from long range.
By midseason, Garcia was out of the rotation entirely. He accumulated several DNPs by coach's decision, including nine in a row.
Eventually, Garcia went to the coaching staff and told them he was ready to step it up. He followed that up by scoring 17 points the next night against Oklahoma City, thus earning himself some more playoff time.
By the end of the season, we saw brief flashes of the heroism that Garcia showed us in last year's playoff series. If he can get that mojo back, he could become a key contributor in this year's run.
Points per game: 6.2
Rebounds per game: 3.0
Assists per game: 0.8
Stats above are from Hamilton's time with the Rockets.
Hamilton came over from the Denver Nuggets in a trade for Aaron Brooks at the deadline. In his first few games, it seemed like a brilliant trade. He was hitting a lot of threes and was providing some much-needed athleticism at the wing.
However, after a few games Hamilton fell back down to Earth, and then some. His shots stopped falling, and eventually he fell out of the rotation. It didn't help his case that Brooks went berserk against the Rockets in his return to the Toyota Center.
Hamilton still has potential to see some time in the playoffs, but it won't be much unless his threes start falling, and fast.
Points per game: 6.9
Rebounds per game: 3.7
Assists per game: 1.2
Omri Casspi also found himself falling out of the rotation after a good start with Houston. His 34.5 three-point percentage and inconsistency in general were enough reasons for McHale to cut his playing time.
Casspi is a good athlete and can stretch the floor when he's making his threes. He takes too many ill-advised, off-balance mid-range jumpers at times, but he is capable of providing a spark off the bench.
It was a disappointing ending to what appeared to be a solid season for the Israeli. I just can't see him getting many minutes, if any, once the playoffs begin.
Points per game: 5.0
Rebounds per game: 0.8
Assists per game: 0.0
Daniels was the only D-Leaguer from Rio Grande who wasn't under contract with the Rockets to start the season. As it turns out, he may have the most impact of any of the youngsters in the playoffs.
Daniels is a three-point specialist who thrived in the system in the Valley. He shot 42.9 percent from deep in the big leagues, which is easily the best on the team, granted the small sample size. The Rockets launch the most threes per game in the NBA, but their percentage is in the bottom half of the league.
That's where Daniels comes in. If he can consistently come in and knock some long balls down, McHale will be tempted to play him like he did in the final week of the season.
Points per game: 4.6
Rebounds per game: 1.1
Assists per game: 1.0
Isaiah Canaan, the only draft pick the Rockets had last summer, had a terrific season in Rio Grande. He averaged 21.8 points and 8.2 assists per game as a Viper.
He has a lot of potential to become a key role player down the road for Houston, but his time just hasn't come yet. He started the year as the fourth point guard on the depth chart behind Beverley, Lin and Brooks.
After Brooks was traded away and Beverley went down with a torn meniscus, Canaan got some good playing time at the NBA level as the backup point guard. He shot just 34.6 percent from three on the big stage, but history shows that he is much better than that.
Canaan will just have to be patient for now and wait for his chance to shine.
Points per game: 2.3
Rebounds per game: 0.7
Assists per game: 0.0
Covington earned himself a contract after a great NBA Summer League in Orlando. His best quality, in the eyes of GM Daryl Morey, is his three-point shooting ability. He connected on 44.4 percent of his attempts from deep as a Rocket in his six game appearances.
In the D-League, Covington averaged 23.2 points and 9.2 boards a night. He clearly has talent and could very well be a big part of Houston's future.
However, just like Canaan, he will have to wait for his turn.