Statistics show that the Brooklyn Nets mimick the Houston Rockets’ style of play, hoisting up three-pointers and dominating in isolation.
In 2017-2018, the Morey-ball Houston Rockets broke all parameters for what an NBA team is capable of on offense. The team broke nearly every single-season team three-point shooting record — threes attempted in a season, threes made in a season, the percentage of total shots from three-point land. The list goes on and on.
Their healthy diet of three-pointers translated to wins — a whole lot of them, in fact. The Rockets finished as the number one seed in the Western Conference, ahead of “The Hamptons Five” Golden State Warriors. If it hadn’t been for an untimely Chris Paul injury, we might be talking about the Houston Rockets as champions of the 2018 NBA season.
Their success did not go unnoticed, as many teams this season have adopted the Rockets’ pioneering style of shot-distribution. It’s clear that multiple NBA franchises spent the off-season diligently studying the Rockets’ shot-charts.
One of the teams that appears to be mirroring the Houston Rockets on offense is the Brooklyn Nets.
Similar to last year, both the Houston Rockets and the Brooklyn Nets are atop of the league in terms of percentage of shots from three. The Rockets are the reigning champs in this statistical category, and appear to be dead-set on holding onto this championship belt, ranking number-one in the NBA with 44.9 percent of their shots coming from behind the arch. Brooklyn, however, is not far behind, ranking fourth in NBA with 40.8 percent of their shots from three (per NBA.com).
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Many of these three-point shots are catch-and-shoot which, to many, is the most efficient shot from three-point land. According to NBA.com, the Rockets rank second in the entire league in catch-and-shoot threes, with 28.4 per game. The Brooklyn Nets aren’t far behind, shooting 27.3 catch-and-shoot threes per contest; good for fourth in the NBA. The Nets have the right personnel to hoist up countless catch-and-shoot threes. This includes Jared Dudley, Allen Crabbe, and most of all, the newly proclaimed “Lumber Joe” Harris.
The Rockets were famously known across the league for removing the midrange from their diet of shots. Even with their off-season addition of the midrange artist, Carmelo Anthony, the team has continued to avoid the midrange like the plague. Only 4.8 percent of their total points come from mid-range, according to NBA.com. Three teams have scored less frequently from the midrange: the Milwaukee Bucks, the Atlanta Hawks, and, you guessed it, the Brooklyn Nets.
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The Houston Rockets run a majority of their offense through their guards, and this is reflected in the players’ usage rates. All four of their guards (Michael Carter-Williams included!) have recorded usage rates higher than 20 percent.
Glancing at Brooklyn’s advanced statistical leaders, you’ll notice a similar trend. All four of the guards (Russell, LeVert, Napier, and Dinwiddie) who receive significant playing time have recorded a usage rate of 20 percent or higher. Only the Nets, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Houston Rockets have four guards on their roster with usage rates of 20 percent or higher. Call me crazy, but this seems pretty unusual.
The Rockets’ offense starts and ends with its All-Star backcourt. James Harden and Chris Paul are two of the five most offensively gifted guards in the NBA. Both Harden and CP3 come equipped with tremendous ball-handling skills and are generational passers, especially when it comes to creating lob dunks or whipping passes to open shooters in the corner.
The shot creation of CP3 and Harden combined with the Rockets’ spark plug off the bench, Eric Gordon, gives the Rockets a terrorizing offense, especially off the dribble. With all of this in mind, it should come to no surprise that the team is leading the league in isolation possessions, with 94 in total according to NBA.com.
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Three spots behind, with 89 in total, you’ll find the Nets.
The Nets are similar to the Rockets in that they shoot a lot of three-pointers (especially from catch-and-shoot), they avoid the mid-range like it’s covered in landmines, they run their offense through their guards, and they isolate with high frequency.
However, as we saw last night, although the Brooklyn Nets may be replicating the Houston Rockets on paper, the results in the wins column are still TBD. Brooklyn met their maker Friday night, losing to the Houston Rockets 117-111, as Chris Paul put up a ridiculous 32 points, 11 assists, two steals, and two blocks with five made three-pointers.
However, Nets fans, although the early results have been discouraging, the team is barking up the right tree, at least in terms of style of play. With more reps and more experience in a winning system perhaps, one day, the Nets can enjoy similar success to the Houston Rockets.