Houston Rockets: Wing Rotation Is Thin, But Can They Make It Work?
The Houston Rockets made some noise before the NBA trade deadline this past week, sending forward Corey Brewer to the Los Angeles Lakers and getting 2014-15 Sixth Man of the Year Louis Williams. This is a huge addition for the Rockets but with the departure of Brewer, the Rockets are once again thin at the forward position.
Trevor Ariza is the only small forward currently on the Rockets roster with Sam Dekker playing some time at the 4, and they will need to find someone to fill Brewer’s spot off the bench. Williams and Dekker could fill some of that role, but the Rockets will be forced to play small-ball for the remainder of the season. They should have no problem as long as James Harden is captain of the ship.
Williams should play alongside shooting guard Eric Gordon, who is averaging 17.2 points per game this season. Williams himself is averaging a career-high 18.6 points per game and he is another spark off the bench. Don’t be surprised if you see Williams challenge Gordon to hoist that Sixth Man of the Year trophy again this year.
He definitely solves the shooting guard depth problem. But now there’s a new problem: Who is the backup at the small forward position? Ariza is currently the lone wolf at the small forward and is the best on-ball defender, aside from Patrick Beverley, the Rockets have.
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Ariza is already carrying a huge burden, playing 34.6 minutes per game. Now that Brewer is no longer there to back him up, the Rockets either need to find some depth on the wing or move Dekker to the 3.
To go along with his heavy minutes, Ariza is still averaging 11.8 points per game and leads the team with 1.9 steals per game. His productivity on both sides of the ball has been a huge reason for Houston’s success this season.
The Rockets have four point guards on the roster right now but only James Harden and Beverley see the court. Tyler Ennis and Bobby Brown hardly see the court but are still young. Gordon and Williams will hold down the shooting guard position, along with Harden if need be.
K.J. McDaniels is another guard that sees limited minutes so the Rockets’ backcourt rotation is definitely thin but they’ve made it work. There’s no doubt that the addition of Williams will bring another spark off the bench, but the lack of height and defense at the small forward position could pose a threat.
The rotation has been consistent this year and it’s hard to imagine the addition of the offensive-minded Williams will hurt them, but rotations are key headed down the final stretch of the season. The ability to rest star players during the second and third quarters has proven to be the secret to success.
As the Rockets continue their championship run, the production from the bench will continue to rise. But the main story to follow will be who will replace Ariza when he is not on the floor. Look for many small-ball lineups moving forward.
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