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.
11) Ronnie Brewer (Last week: 10)
One minute played. Zero everything on the stat sheet.
10) Robert Covington (Last week: 11)
The rookie jacked up four three-pointers in garbage time against the Memphis Grizzlies, making two. That’s great news! Not so great news is how open he was on one of them.
9) Omri Casspi (Last week: 6)
Casspi shot 22.2% from the floor and 42.9% from the free-throw line this week. Once again his playing time was spotty. There shouldn’t be such an obvious correlation between these two sentences, but there is. Casspi only plays well when granted big minutes. Weird but true.
8) Patrick Beverley (Last week: 4)
Tough week offensively for Patrick Beverley, whose numbers were comparable to Aaron Brooks’, despite Brooks playing about 15 fewer minutes per game. Beverley shot 28.9% from the floor, and both Houston’s offense and defense were better when he sat.
7) Donatas Motiejunas (Last week: 8)
Pleasant news alert! The numbers indicate Donatas Motiejunas made Houston better on defense this week! Some of this is hopeful and nice, but it’s also relative to how the Rockets played when Kevin McHale chose to go super small (playing James Harden at power forward when Zach Randolph is on the floor isn’t the best call). Motiejunas is tall, and so he helped.
6) James Harden (Last week: 2)
His lowest appearance of the season, James Harden appeared in two games this week and didn’t look himself in either. He had 13 assists against the Grizzlies on Friday night—his most since joining the Rockets—but went 2-for-11 from the field in a one point loss.
Houston dropped both games Harden played in and won both he missed. It’s ultimately a meaningless tidbit of information, but still doesn’t look very good. With Harden in a flowery shirt and navy blazer, the Rockets scored 18.5 more points per 100 possessions than when he wore a red basketball jersey. Those two performances were against a banged up San Antonio Spurs squad that lost Manu Ginobili mid-game, and the defensively inept Dallas Mavericks, so take them with a grain of salt.
5) Aaron Brooks (Last week: 9)
Brooks logged 55 minutes through three games last week. In that time the Rockets scored an insane 121.4 points per 100 possessions. A lot of his playing time came because of Harden’s injury, but Brooks made a solid case for regular minutes in the future. He shot 46.2% from behind the three-point line, giving the Rockets a capable scorer off the bench and helping them fill a widening hole. (Since Jan.1, Houston ranks 22nd in 3-point percentage.)
4) Terrence Jones (Last week: 5)
Terrence Jones is doing special things, everyone. He’s slowly developing effective moves in the post, and broke them out against Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks. If he can become a reliable option down low Houston’s starting lineup might be the best in basketball before the season’s over.
Jones averaged 13.5 points on over 50% shooting from the floor this week, but struggled badly at the free-throw line. Hopefully that doesn’t become a lingering long-term issue.
3) Jeremy Lin (Last week: 7)
I wrote at greater length about Jeremy Lin yesterday, mostly focusing on why his skill-set/contract may not suit Houston’s long-term needs. A lot of people disagreed on Twitter, which is fine, but let it be known (as I said in the article) that I like Lin and think he’s a nifty player.
Lin’s play is a good barometer for how Houston’s doing on the whole; it’d be nice if he were more consistent. He was extremely effective scoring in transition in the two games Houston played without James Harden.
2) Dwight Howard (Last week: 1)
Howard absolutely abused Sam Dalembert yet again, forcing the Dallas Mavericks to double from the top whenever he got it in the post. He was impressive turning, finding, and passing to open teammates throughout that game (minus a few hiccups).
Thanks to Hack-a-Dwight, Howard also sparked a 345 minute second half against the San Antonio Spurs. (There’s a solid chance the Rockets would’ve lost that game had it not been for the stream of intentional fouls summoned by Gregg Popovich.) Howard drew nine personal fouls per game this week, and resumed his status as a hypothetical MVP candidate.
1) Chandler Parsons (Last week: 3)
Chandler Parsons can make a complicated game look so simple. This week he led Houston in scoring with 19.3 points per game on 45.9% shooting, showing off so much more than an ability to heat up behind the three-point line.
SPEAKING of the three-point line, as I’m sure you’re well aware, Parsons set an NBA record that should stand for a very long time. Not only did he make 10 threes in 24 available minutes, but they all came in a row! Stupefying. It’s like a street performer who believes nobody appreciates his chainsaw juggling until he sets them on fire, too.
And what happens when you make 10 straight threes in a half, upping your season average to a career-best 39.5%? Lots and lots of this:
There are weaknesses, of course, but when he’s aggressive on offense, working an effective in-between game that keeps the defense off balance, Parsons’ shortcomings on the other end are almost acceptable.
Michael Pina has written for Red94, CelticsHub, The Classical, Bleacher Report, Sports On Earth, and Boston Magazine. Follow him here.