Houston Rockets make history while missing the playoffs

This morning Houston Rockets' general manager Daryl Morey said on Twitter that the Rockets are the best NBA team ever without an All-Star.

Wow. Really? Could that be so? The Rockets are 40-38 right now, with games against the Bobcats, Suns, Kings and Hornets on the docket. They'd have to win half their remaining games just to finish above .500. They've been out of the playoff hunt for a while now.

Has every team better than that, in NBA history, really had an All-Star?

I looked at this year's standings for a moment, and quickly came up with the Milwaukee Bucks. They have 44 wins already and I sure don't remember seeing any Bucks in that All-Star game in the Dallas Cowboys' Death Star.

Morey clarified by e-mail, saying the Rockets are the "only team since ABA/NBA merger (1976) with over a .500 record without an All-Star playing over 100 minutes. Michael Redd played 492 minutes for Bucks this year..."

He went on to explain that by "All-Star" he meant anyone who had ever been an All-Star, not just a current one, a measure by which the Bucks would be further disqualified thanks to Jerry Stackhouse.

Nobody sets out to be the best starless team ever. Not if you finish out of the playoffs. There's nothing dreamy about it. But it's still a nifty distinction for a Yao-less season in Houston. It's a decent feather in the cap of Morey's merry band of stat geeks, too, I suppose. Not only can they find the best role players, but they can also find this obscure statistic.

The interesting thing about it is that it's at once a tribute to Rick Adelman and the less famous Rockets he coaches -- nice going Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola and the gang -- while also a powerful ode to superstars, who are evidently entirely essential.

UPDATE: Justin Kubatko of Basketball-Reference digs in and finds several teams that won more, but had players who went on to be All-Stars:

  • The Rockets still need to win two more games to clinch a winning record and the top spot on this list.

  • If any one of the Rockets regular players (Kevin Martin, Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola, etc.) is selected to an All-Star Game in the future, the 2009-10 Rockets will drop off of this list.