Every Friday, I rank every active Rocket (who sees the floor) based on his performance from the previous week. If you missed the most recent installment, here you go.
12) Isaiah Canaan (Last week: 12)
Canaan averaged two points per minute this week. An outstanding number. (Related: he played one minute.)
11) Robert Covington (Last week: N/A)
Robert Covington debuts on this power ranking with a brief appearance in all three of this week’s games. He scored the first five points of his career against Sacramento. Congratulations on both achievements, Robert!
10) Ronnie Brewer (Last week: 10)
With Chandler Parsons healthy, Brewer spent most of the week on the bench. He had 0 points, 0 assists, 0 blocks, 0 steals, and one rebound in 10 total minutes.
9) Aaron Brooks (Last week: 7)
Similar to Brewer, Brooks is all but out of the rotation now that Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley are healthy. But should he be? Brooks might be the second or third best three-point shooter Houston has, especially off the dribble, where he’s shown an ability to create his own shot (something Francisco Garcia definitely can not do).
It’d be nice to see Kevin McHale find space for Brooks in extra tiny lineups. He averaged just 3.3 points per game this week.
8) Donatas Motiejunas (Last week: 9)
Donatas Motiejunas averaged 5.7 fouls per 24 minutes this week, disqualifying himself from both starts in place of an injured Terrence Jones. It’s clear, however, that he can play professional basketball on the offensive end. He’s a serious threat from the corner and makes smart interior passes. He’ll be in the league for a very long time because of those skills, but he’s still a step slow on almost all back line defensive rotations. Gotta love that effort, though.
7) Jeremy Lin (Last week: 5)
Early in the fourth quarter against Portland, Trail Blazers rookie C.J. McCollum had back to back scoring opportunities in transition, beating Jeremy Lin on both. Thomas Robinson was called for offensive interference on the first, and McCollum scored a layup on the second.
Lin isn’t as effective on offense when those free coast to coast paths to the basket tighten up. He shot just 36% from the floor this week.
6) Omri Casspi (Last week: 8)
CASSPI BACK! Sort of. This was his finest week in quite some time. In three games (29 minutes per) he averaged 13.7 points on 48.6% shooting, and 8.0 rebounds. The Rockets were an insane 20.4 points per 100 possessions better than their opponent when Casspi took the floor and the defense (of all things) was a disaster when he sat. The lesson, as always, is to PLAY CASSPI as much as possible.
5) Terrence Jones (Last week: 1)
Jones cracks the top-five despite missing two games because he blew fire from his mouth against the poor Milwaukee Bucks, scoring 36 points on 70% shooting from the floor. For more on why Jones is a special dude, I wrote about him yesterday.
4) Patrick Beverley (Last week: N/A)
The most unexpected stat related to Houston Rockets basketball this week: when Patrick Beverley played (62 minutes in two games—he missed the Bucks) the Rockets outscored opponents by 44.0 points per 100 possessions. 44 freaking points.
The Rockets were outscored by 7.6 points per 100 possessions when he sat. This all includes a 2-for-9 shooting performance against the Sacramento Kings (where he also had six rebounds and eight assists).
Beverley has his good days and his bad, but when he’s wreaking havoc in all the ways only he knows how, the Rockets are a damn good basketball team.
3) Chandler Parsons (Last week: 4)
Houston should consider switching on every single pick-and-roll where Parsons’ man is the screener. Seriously. It isn’t ideal, but the consistent gutting that takes place whenever Parsons hedges or traps has to stop. That being said, he was phenomenal with the ball all week, averaging nearly 20 points (on 50% shooting) and 10 rebounds in 114 total minutes.
2) James Harden (Last week: 3)
What Harden did to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night was brutal, weaving up and down the court for baskets at the rim whenever he wanted them. Michael Malone’s time-outs were his team’s best defense, and Harden steamrolled through those too. Here’s his shot chart from that game.
Harden averaged “only” 22.7 points per game this week, but his off the ball defense was better than normal.
1) Dwight Howard (Last week: 2)
Howard wasn’t named an All-Star starter even though he’s clearly one of the five best players in the Western Conference. Oh well. He made a three this week. That was cool. He also displayed some of his most disruptive defense against the pick-and-roll, and showed how intelligent he can be on that end of the floor.
Here are a few photos that will show what I’m talking about. All were taken from Houston’s impressive win against the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Rockets set themselves up for failure in the play’s opening seconds, when Parsons and Howard switched. It ends with Batum knocking down a three from the corner. Here’s the same sequence from later in the quarter.
Michael Pina has bylines at Red94, CelticsHub, The Classical, Bleacher Report, Sports On Earth, and Boston Magazine. Follow him here.