Predictions: Who will be first guard off of Rockets bench?
By Niqko Marshall
Apr 30, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Troy Daniels (30) shoots the ball over Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum (88) during the second quarter in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
Going into 2014-2015 the Rockets have a lot of guard options to choose from. Behind starters James Harden and Patrick Beverley, Kevin McHale will have Ish Smith, Isaiah Canaan, Troy Daniels, Nick Johnson. Francisco Garcia is also back who plays more of a forward/guard role. Also, there is the newly acquired Jason Terry.
Each player brings something different for Houston, but it stands to reason that it is the youngsters which could potentially render the backcourt dangerous.
Right off the bat, my first choice for the first guard off the bench would be Troy Daniels. Daniels impressed many in his short time playing with the Rockets. He’s known mostly as a recent standout in the D-league where he set records for the most threes made making about five per game. Late last season, his stellar play from the outside led to him being called up. During the regular season he had only played five games with the Rockets.
But his biggest moment came when he won a playoff game by draining the game winning three for Houston, and followed that up with a huge 17 point performance the following game.
After the season Daniels was a restricted free agent and gained interest by many teams, but ultimately the Rockets saw him as an important piece to the Rockets high-octane offense as they signed him back for two more years. If Daniels is the first guard off of the bench he may likely come in for Beverley which would move Harden to point guard duties (offensively).
Bringing Daniels off of the bench first means immediate fire power off of the bench for the Rockets. In the three playoff appearances he averaged 7.8 points and shot a total of about 62 percent from the three point range. What makes Daniels deadly as a shooter is that he can shoot it at a high percentage from just about anywhere on the floor. He can shoot off of the dribble and he can come off of screens and shoot the ball just as well as if he would be just spotting up. Also what makes it even better for him is the rate at which the Rockets take three pointers.
This is pretty much a dream offense for him.
Apr 30, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Troy Daniels (30) reacts after making a basket during the second quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Daniels does need to make improvements though. His role on the team can be as big as he wants it to be. If he improves as a defender he will see more time. Also Daniels is not as supreme of a ball handler which means he couldn’t be much of a combo guard which would also make his case for more minutes. Several with awareness of his game have indicated he is a better playmaker than he had the opportunity to show in a limited role last season, however. Moreover, over the summer he has clearly stated that he vows to get better in all assets of his game to help him become more of an all-around player.
A strong candidate who could challenge Daniels for first guard off of the bench would be Isaiah Canaan. The Murray State product showed improvement over the summer with being able to be a floor general and score the ball. From an experience standpoint Canaan has played in more games than Daniels, and was very accomplished at a mid-major program as a major scorer and ball distributor. What will help Canaan’s case a little more is that there is an opening for backup point guard now with Lin gone.
Solely off of what I have seen from Daniels and his steady improvement in so little time I would give the advantage to him in assuming the third guard role within the backcourt.
It also helps Daniels case that he could be one of the best shooters in the NBA this year. His future is bright, and those who berate the Rockets for lacking depth will be a bit surprised by the development of its young talent this season—especially Daniels.