On paper, every single Rockets player is inconsistent. The stats are all over the board almost every night with no one player dominating the box score night in and night out. Yet the Rockets continue to win games. How is that possible?
On most good teams, the +/- stats show a wide disparity between the star players and the backups. The +/- stat, for those who don't know, shows the ratio of how many points one team scores versus the other team while a given player is in the game. A positive number means that the player's team outscored the opposing team while he playing. When looked at on a per minute basis over a significant number of games, it can be a very telling statistic. On the Lakers, for instance, the difference between the best player and the worst is over half a point per minute. On the Rockets, the variance is only .15 points per minute. That tells us that either there is very little difference in the quality of players at the top and bottom of the Rockets' lineup or that they are being well-taught and well-utilized by the coaches. The latter is the case.
This post is a toast to Rick Adelman and his coaching staff. It is not an accident that the top four Rockets players in the +/- stats are backups, led by Kyle Lowry. Adelman is a genius at matchups and substitution patterns. He has a great feel for the game as it unfolds and listens to his assistant coaches and scouts to be as well-prepared as he can be. He and his assistants have every man on the team on the same page, keeping goals, egos and relationships in crystal clear perspective. Trevor Ariza got in Aaron Brooks' face after Brooks made a bone-headed play at the end of regulation in Dallas - and what was the fallout? Nada. Brooks said, no big deal. Ariza was right, I screwed up. Just heat of the moment stuff. We all get along. What would have happened if Artest had gotten in Kobe's face or vice versa? I shudder to think.
Let's also not forget that Adelman was instrumental in putting together this lineup of role players whose whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. Yes, Daryl and Les were involved too, but this is not their toast.
This team is a testimonial to the talent, skills and experience of Rick Adelman. That includes his ability to find, hire and keep top assistant coaches. Adelman is one huge reason that Les Alexander continues to sell Rockets tickets without a star in sight. Here's to you, Coach! Merry Christmas!