Stephen Silas sees improvements during rough first half

Jan 5, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets head coach Stephen Silas gestures that the ball went out of bounds on the Utah Jazz in the second half at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Silas sees improvements during rough first half

If you look at the board in Stephen Silas’ office, you’ll see areas of improvement he wanted to see from the Rockets this season, and crashing the offensive glass is near the top of the list.

“We are the number one team in the league and offensive rebounding,” Silas said Monday. “I’m proud of that.”

Very little has gone right for Silas and the Rockets as they get ready to hit the halfway point of the 2022-23 season on Wednesday night in Sacramento. The team that has finished with the NBA’s fewest wins in each of the last two campaigns remains in that same spot at 10-30, losers of seven straight and 12-of-13, but the Rockets head coach sees improvement, even when the top line numbers say there is none.

“We were horrendous protecting the paint last year this year, I think we’re like fifth (this season). Protecting the rim, which was even worse last year, we were really bad, and now I think we’re like 11th at opponent rim rate.”

Silas is right about protecting the paint. The Rockets allowed a league-worst 53.2 points in the paint per game last season, and that number has dropped to 47 this season. Along with improving to first from 20th in offensive rebounding, the Rockets have gone from 25th to 12th in defensive rebounding rate.

More important than nominal team goals, however, has been the individual improvement Silas has seen from the Rockets’ key players, that while maybe not leading to wins in the present, will help do so in the long run.

“The growth of Kevin Porter Jr., as far as being a point guard and playing even and helping his teammates play. Jalen Green getting to the free throw line and making plays, having five assists in a half (on Sunday). Jabari Smith slowly but surely coming along, having his rookie ups and downs.

“K. J. Martin, his growth has been trending towards (Jae’Sean Tate) as far as basketball IQ and helping the group play well and the way that we played fast last night. The dunks and the transition pass aheads, and all that, so we see it, so those are things I’m definitely proud of.”

While the Rockets have made strides in some areas, they’ve taken steps back in others. They finished last season with the NBA’s worst turnover rate, and that number has gotten worse. 16.9% of the Rockets’ possessions through 40 games have resulted in a turnover, up from 16.2% a season ago.

“Our decision-making needs to get better. on the offensive end,” Silas said. “We had a stretch last night where we turned the ball over carelessly, like three times, and it was a result of either just ball off the foot and out of bounds or poor spacing, so then we weren’t able to make an easy play as opposed to a hard play.”

The Rockets have made marginal gains on the defensive end of the floor, partly due to the way they’ve protected the paint, but they remain 28th in defense, allowing 115.8 points per 100 possessions, down from the 116.4 points they allowed last season, and Silas believes there are small details they can easily clean up that would make a major difference.

“I definitely want to just continue to harp on the basics of closing out and keeping the ball out the middle of the floor and contesting shots,” he said. “There are times where we’re out there, and we’re doing what we’re supposed to do as far as protecting the pain and protecting the rim, but the the offense doesn’t feel us the same way, so I want us to impose our will a little bit more on both ends of the floor, and not just on the defensive end.”

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *