I wrote earlier this week about what I consider the Rockets’ biggest strength entering the season: the durability of their best players. That’s the advantage they have over their two main competitors in the Lakers and Clippers. But their other advantage over the Lakers is that they actually have a complete rotation entering the season, with essentially all of the major spots filled.
It’s funny because the Rockets basically are in the opposite situation as they were in last season before the opener. Last year, all of their best players were back, but they had to recreate their depth after losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. This year, they’ve swapped out #2 options after trading Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook, but have maintained continuity in their supporting cast after resigning Danuel House Jr., Austin Rivers, and Gerald Green. I actually feel like the Rockets are in a much better place this year in that regard though you may recall that I didn’t think the team would really miss a beat after losing Ariza.
Clint Capela is entrenched at center, with P.J. Tucker at the four, and Harden at shooting guard. One of either House or Eric Gordon will start at the ‘3’, with the other the first player to come off the bench. Rivers rounds out a core 7 which, if everyone plays to last season’s production, I’d stack up against any other squad in the league. After that, Gerald Green figures to be the eighth man, with several younger players fighting over the remaining crumbs. (More on Gary Clark and Isaiah Hartenstein in a later post.)
Its just ironic that it was this summer that the Rockets made a blockbuster trade, not last summer, but there will be less questions overall. Getting Russ and Harden to mesh could have challenges, sure, but the team is unlikely to be scrambling to fill spots if everyone stays healthy.