Houston Rockets: 4 Encouraging signs that prove hot start is sustainable

Houston Rockets Fred VanVleet (Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports)
Houston Rockets Fred VanVleet (Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Exploring four encouraging trends that prove that the Houston Rockets’ hot start to the season could be sustainable. 

When it was originally reported that the Houston Rockets were going to be aggressive heading into this past offseason, there were many who scoffed at the idea that they would pursue some of the big-name free agents. After all, coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons, it was foolish to believe that the Rockets were in a position where they’d be a signing or two from making a big move up the Western Conference standings.

Nevertheless, that didn’t push the Rockets off their stance. Houston hired head coach Ime Udoka and then proceeded to sign Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks in free agency. They were two moves that weren’t unanimously praised but looking back, perhaps the Rockets knew something that we didn’t.

Through the first three weeks of the season, you can make the argument that the Rockets have been vindicated in their offseason decisions. Houston is 6-3 through the first nine games of the season and might be the biggest surprise in the NBA.

Despite the hot start, the big question revolves around whether this is all sustainable for the Rockets moving forward. Looking at a few trends through the first few weeks of the season, I’d argue there are four signs that suggest this start could be sustainable for the upstart Rockets.

Why it’s safe to believe in the Houston Rockets

Trend No. 1: An above-average offense and defense

At nearly the 10-game mark, the Rockets have a top-5 defense. Generally, how good a team is on the defensive end of the floor is a good indication of how good the team is period. Or, at the very least, how sustainable winning can be. The offense may fluctuate in the NBA throughout the season. However, if a team can defend, they can defend. And that almost rarely changes significantly throughout the course of a season.

As the old adage says, defense wins championships. In other words, if you can’t play defense, you don’t have winning sustainability when it matters most. At the very least, Udoka has instilled a culture of defense-first. And that’s something the Rockets could hang their hat on in the midst of the highs and lows on the offensive end during the season.