Nov 29, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks power forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) drives the ball against Houston Rockets power forward Terrence Jones (6) during the third quarter of the game at Madison Square Garden. The Rockets won 116-111. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
The Houston Rockets put on a show in their first preseason game, but their 37 point victory came against the Shanghai Sharks. Next up they face a real NBA squad, and if you ask Derrick Rose one of the ‘super teams’.
Not to take anything away from the Houston Rockets or Mike D’Antoni‘s game plan in Sunday’s win, but the Sharks don’t boast the same talent as the Knicks. That said, the Rockets gave fans plenty of reasons for optimism.
In his inaugural game as the starting point guard James Harden shined. His ability to penetrate the paint and find open shooters was unparalleled. Houston’s depth played a major factor in the game as the reserves shot lights out.
With this being preseason there is no guarantee the same starting five will tip-off. Nor is it a given all the regular rotation players will see playing time.
Mike D’Antoni will utilize preseason to observe different line-ups, see how they gel and get a look at potential players to fill the final roster spot. Of course the 15th roster spot is earmarked for Donatas Motiejunas. But with his qualifying offer expired and the two sides at a veritable stand off uncertainty looms regarding his future with the team.
Next: Starting Line Ups and Depth Charts
Nov 21, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) reacts after a play during the fourth quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. The Knicks defeated the Rockets 107-102. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Though preseason never can’t be relied on for absolutes the starting line-up from last game is a good place to start. As for the Knicks look for coach Jeff Hornacek to use his stars and the line he’ll likely start on opening day.
The minor tweaks I’ve added reflect my best guess at replacing injured players (or players being held out for precautionary or rest reasons)
Point Guard: James Harden
Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon (taking a guess Gordon will move into the starting line-up)
Small Forward: Trevor Ariza
Power Forward: Ryan Anderson
Center: Clint Capela
Dec 18, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon (10) is guarded by Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) during the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns won 104-88. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Rockets Depth Chart:
Point Guard: Tyler Ennis, Pablo Prigioni, Bobby Brown,
Shooting Guard: K.J. McDaniels, Gary Payton II, Isaiah Taylor
Small Forward: Sam Dekker, Corey Brewer, P.J. Hairston
Power Forward: Kyle Wiltjer, Montrezl Harrell
Center: Nene Hilario, Chinanu Onuaku
New York Knicks:
Point Guard: Derrick Rose
Shooting Guard: Courtney Lee
Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony
Power Forward: Kristaps Porzingis
Center: Kyle O’Quinn (again a guess given Noah’s injury as Hornacek could move Porzingis to C and start Amundsen or Plumlee at PF)
Feb 20, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) brings the ball up court against the Detroit Pistons during the first quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Knicks Depth Chart:
Point Guard: Brandon Jennings, Chasson Randle
Shooting Guard: Sasha Vujacic, Justin Holiday, Ron Baker
Small Forward: Lance Thomas, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Maurice Ndour, JP Tokoto
Power Forward: Marshall Plumlee, Lou Amundson
Center: Kyle O’Quinn, Guillermo (Willy) Hernangomez
Next: Game Particulars
Though it can’t be confirmed often players held back in preseason may be due to precautions or rest. For example Noah has a history of injuries the past few season and Beverley comes off an injury in training camp so it’s likely these are healthy sit outs.
- Patrick Beverley – left knee tendonitis
- Joakim Noah – strained hamstring
As per Rotoworld
In Houston the game tips off at 7:00 PM Central Time
For Eastern watchers the game tips off at 8:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
Houston Texas at the Toyota Center
Radio and Television Providers:
In Houston and Area: Root Sports
In New York: MSG has the broadcast rights
Worldwide: NBA League Pass
Next: Summer Roster Moves
Dec 18, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) reacts after dunking against the Detroit Pistons during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Knicks Summer Moves:
- Joakim Noah from Bulls, 4-years, $72M
- Derrick Rose (trade)
- Courtney Lee 4-years, $50M exits Hornets
- Brandon Jennings 1 year at $5M
- Willy Hernangomez (older brother of Juan who was drafted by Denver 15th this summer)
- Mindaugas Kuzminskas
- Maurice Ndour 2-year minimum deal with the Knicks
Note: Hernangomez and Kuzminskas come over from Spanish League where Porzingis played prior to joining Knicks as a rookie.
- Robin Lopez (trade)
- Jerian Grant (trade)
- Jose Calderon (trade)
- Arron Afflalo 2-years, $25M to Kings
- Langston Galloway 2-years (undisclosed financials) to Pelicans
- Derrick Williams to a reported 1-year, $5M deal with Heat
- Kevin Seraphin signs with Pacers
- Cleanthony Early
Rockets Summer Moves:
Round 2: Chinanu Onuaku (37), Zhou Qi (43)
Rookies signed after draft: Gary Payton II signed for 3yrs, Kyle Wiltjer and Isaiah Taylor
- Ryan Anderson 4-years, $80M exits Pelicans
- Eric Gordon 4-years, $53M exits Pelicans
- Nene Hilario on a 1 year, $2.9M exits Wizards
- Pablo Prigioni on a 2-year veteran minimum deal exits Clippers
- Tyler Ennis on a trade that sent Michael Beasley to the Bucks
- James Harden signed 4-year, $118M contract extension
- Dwight Howard agrees to 3-year $70.5M deal with Hawks
- Terrence Jones signed a 1-year deal with Pelicans
- Jason Terry signs 1-year veteran minimum deal with Bucks
- Michael Beasley traded to Bucks in exchange for Tyler Ennis
RFA Qualifying Offer:
- Donatas Motiejunas Rockets extended qualifying offer which expired October 1st, remains unresolved
Next: Four Keys to the Game
Nov 21, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) goes to the basket as New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) defends during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Four Keys To the Game:
Harden vs Rose: While James Harden looked great in his first outing it was after all against the Shanghai Sharks. Today’s match versus the Knicks offers a truer test for Harden as he continues to run the point.
Bench Prowess: The Rockets bench was especially relevant in their first preseason win. How will they fair versus an NBA squad with greater depth. Conversely, while the Knicks have shored up their starting 5 they remain meager in terms of bench depth.
Knicks Offense: It’s rumored President Phil Jackson still wants new head coach Jeff Hornacek to run the triangle. The reality is Hornacek is given to run and gun offenses. The problem for both systems is the Knicks roster (especially their stars) are on the downside of their prime or in Rose’s case coming back from repeated injuries. The big question is who runs the offense for the Knicks. Rose as the point guard would seem the logical pick, but Carmelo Anthony is a ball heavy user. Unfortunately Joakim Noah is out as I maintain he would be the best player to instigate ball movement.
Porzingis Power: In case you forgot last year ‘the Unicorn’ Kristaps Porzingis ate the Rockets for breakfast. Porzingis scored 24 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked 7 shots. Keep an eye to see how he fairs against Clint Capela and Nene.
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Next up in the preseason schedule the Rockets travel to China to play 2 games versus the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday October 9th, and Wednesday October 12th respectively.