Rockets fans are in a frenzy after the Harden trade and how the season has gone so far. A 4-9 start to the season for a team who finished 4th in the West last year is not an ideal start. With Harden gone and new stars arriving, where do the Rockets go from here?
With Wall being the sole point guard for the team, the Rockets should look to free agents or trades. Isaiah Thomas is the no-brainer pickup for the Rockets, but they are still hesitant at this moment. The bottom line is the Rockets need another point guard besides Wall. Plus, with Wall being injured at the moment and likely again in the future, this point guard needs to be able to play starting point guard minutes and produce.
With Eric Gordon headed to Charlotte, the Rockets need another solid SF. Several mediocre SFs simply won't cut it.
We've all seen what Terry Rozier is capable of, and he can certainly lead this Rockets team when Wall isn't playing. As for Luke Kennard, you might think that he is just another ordinary SG/SF. Last year with the Pistons, he averaged 15.8 PPG off of 44% from the field and 40% from three while also shooting excellent from the line, 89%. Kennard would start at the SF, but despite being 6'5, he could potentially obtain point guard duties with the Rockets as he has with the Clippers. So far this season, Kennard is shooting 52% from the field, 51% from three, and 90% from the free-throw line. The reason he is only averaging 9.3 PPG is that he isn't shooting the ball enough. With a real facilitator in John Wall, Kennard would have more open looks from deep. Kennard also has a sweet mid-range game that he could certainly use with the Rockets along with his ability to finish on the interior. It also leaves the Rockets with a backup point guard (Rozier or Kennard) to relieve Oladipo from his backup point guard duties and to have someone else to facilitate the offense. We also have to remember that Wall isn't playing in back-to-back games along with the likelihood of being injured in the future.
Despite how poorly he is currently playing, get DeMarcus Cousins more in-game reps. Right now, the Rockets don't need to be concerned about their record, they need to be concerned about developing their players, and Cousins should be at the top of the list. After his injury held him back for a whole season, all Cousins could do was rehab, and slowly transition to on-court workouts. Cousins needs to regain his sense for playing in an NBA atmosphere and produce at least up to the level that he did with the Warriors.
Another must for the Rockets is to get Wall accustomed to Christian Wood. A major part of that is keeping Wall healthy, which is almost completely out of their control. When Wall and Wood are both healthy and on the court at the same time, they need to take advantage of pick and rolls because this duo can really make things work.
The Rockets have depth at the SF position, so they need to spread it out. It's time that the Rockets adjust the rotation. The first thing I would like to see is more minutes for Ben McLemore and Sterling Brown and less for Danuel House. House has been struggling this year to find his in-season form as he has been struggling from the field and from deep. In a whopping 32.5 MPG, he's producing only 7.5 PPG off of 37% from the field and 20% from three. Meanwhile, Sterling Brown is getting it done from everywhere. I've been watching Brown play, and he can finish with ease around the rim even when challenged by bigger and taller defenders. Brown also has a solid mid-range game in addition to shooting 45.9% from three so far this season. In just 20.5 MPG, he's averaging 8.1 PPG (more than House who plays an average of 12 more minutes) off of 52.3% shooting from the field. He is very aggressive to the basket, and as I mentioned earlier he can finish with ease. With this aggression, he also can knock down free throws at a high rate, as he hasn't missed one yet this year. Meanwhile, Ben McLemore, currently the backup SG, is continuing to shoot the lights out while shooting 48.6% from three with 5 attempts per game and scoring 9.3 PPG in just 21.3 MPG. McLemore isn't as versatile as Brown, as he is the shooter of this team. He does not finish well in the paint and barely even ventures inside the three-point line. I would propose to subtract minutes from both Danuel House and David Nwaba to give more minutes to Ben McLemore and especially Sterling Brown.
The Rockets have put together a good group of guys, but meshing all of them together will be the real challenge. It will be interesting how the front office and coaching staff take it from here.