Here’s the little thing everyone has missed while talking about Yao Ming for the past couple years — without him the Rockets are one of the league’s more entertaining teams.
In the last two seasons — save for the handful of games Yao played — the Rockets have become a running team. Right now they play at the sixth fastest pace in the league and that has been without Aaron Brooks — the speedy point guard made for a running offense — who has been out with a severely sprained ankle.
The Rockets are a pretty good offensive team — they are currently eighth in the league in offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions). Their defense is not so good (21st) but that just leads to more watchable, high scoring games. Luis Scola and Kevin Martin can fill it up on any given night, and Shane Battier is underrated on offense.
Make no mistake this is not a good team — they are 11-15 now but as John Hollinger points out have had to do it against a pretty tough schedule. They will probably finish around .500 and flirt with the eighth seed in the West.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey has some big picture decisions to make — with Yao essentially done as a Rocket and a guy you build around, the long-term direction of the team is in question. Build through the draft and with young players essentially blowing this team up, or get a star that can lead this quality group of role players. A long-term direction needs to be chosen.
But for now, the Rockets remain a decent and entertaining team to watch. Which is a step ahead of half of the league.