3-on-3: Three Questions About the Houston Rockets
By Ben Casey
Dec 30, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Montrezl Harrell (5) celebrates with forward Corey Brewer (33) and guard Patrick Beverley (2) after a play during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
I spend probably at least one hour each day thinking about pickup basketball, because pickup basketball is great.
Basketball is wonderful because you can play it with just one person or you can play it with ten people, and everything in between. Pickup baseball games just don’t happen and pickup football isn’t fun. Pickup basketball, however, is always great, no matter the number of people or the level of competition.
If you’ve ever played pickup basketball, chances are you know how amazing 3-on-3 is. It’s the perfect half court game setup, and the next best thing to a full court, 5-on-5 game. In honor of the glorious 3-on-3 pickup basketball game, we’re going to have our own version of 3-on-3 here on Space City Scoop.
It’s going to be pretty simple: for each edition, three writers will answer three different questions about the Houston Rockets. Now that the rules have been established, I present to you the first installment of SCS’s 3-on-3:
1. Rumors have circulated that the Rockets are looking to acquire Kosta Koufos from the Kings in a trade. Would this be a good idea? If not, who else?
I really think making a trade, for anyone, would be a panic move. And in the panic of trying to fill Clint Capela‘s void, I would rather not trade away a player who is vital to our bench unity. The strength and depth of the bench is what separates our team from others. It’s in this depth that the Rockets have still been able to win, despite Capela being out.
I have never been a fan of Kosta Koufos anyway. He’s barely averaging 6 points and 6 boards per game in over 20 minutes. Chinanu Onuaku put up 6 points and 3 boards in 8 minutes in the one game he played. Different circumstances for sure, but trading for any player would damage our rhythm more than helping us in the long run.
I do not think trading for Koufos is a good idea. For starters, the Sacramento Kings would like for the Rockets to give them one of their young and valuable assets like Sam Dekker or Montrezl Harrell in return. That’s asking too much for a player averaging 5.6 points per game during his nine-year career.
If Daryl Morey is looking to fill a void or upgrade at the center position, he should look no further than Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets. I firmly believe a trade for Lopez would not only be a safe trade but could elevate Houston into a legit championship contender.
To some extent, I see the appeal of going after a rim protector like Koufos. Capela anchors the defense and is going to be out for another month or so. But, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to ruin the good thing the Rockets have going this year.
Houston would most likely have to give up at least one significant role player in Dekker, Harrell, or Corey Brewer to land Koufos, who averages just about 6 points and 6 rebounds per game on not even 60% shooting. The Rockets are winning games without Capela and should drop all the talks of trade.
Next: 2. MVP Predictions
Jan 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) in the second half at Toyota Center. Houston Rockets won 118 to 116. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
2. The MVP race has been hotly debated so far this season. What’s your prediction for the winner? Runner up?
Russell Westbrook has had played phenomenally so far this season, but the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s record will hinder his chances to take home the MVP. So with that said, James Harden is my pick for MVP!
Not only is Harden playing just as phenomenally as Westbrook from an individual standpoint, but The Beard has the Houston Rockets playing their best basketball since the Hakeem Olajuwon era ended in 2001. That’s saying a lot for a team who was projected to miss the playoffs shortly after Dwight Howard‘s departure this summer.
I am biased, but I think the most logical pick for MVP is James Harden. He’s posting stats that are nearly as good as Westbrook’s (if not better, arguably), and leads a better team. In 2014-2015, Harden lost the MVP to Steph Curry despite posting better numbers simply because Curry’s team was better.
This season, if that same rule were to be applied, the hardware would have to go to the Beard. He’s on a top 4 team in the league and is putting up numbers that nobody thought possible. His 53-17-16 eruption against the New York Knicks was just one game, but it speaks to how dominant he is this season.
I truly hope Harden wins the MVP this year. It’s absurd how wrong the media has been when covering James and the Rockets. I still can’t believe he didn’t make an all NBA team last year. But, on the other hand, I’m glad too. It’s given the Beard a chip on his shoulder and it’s almost comparable to Westbrook. I guess it’s fitting that those two players are currently the front runners for the award.
Next: 3. Most Impressive Rocket (other than Harden)
Dec 26, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) reacts after making a basket during the first quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
3. Other than James Harden, what Rockets player have you been most impressed with so far this year?
I have been incredibly impressed with Patrick Beverley. He brings the heat every night on defense, consistently tasked with locking up the other team’s better guard. Defense is intangible sometimes, but it’s tough to deny his effect on the court. He leads the team in Defensive Box Plus/Minus and has flirted with triple-doubles on multiple occasions.
I’ve said a few times this year that Beverley is the Draymond Green of guards, and I’m sticking with that statement. He can play off the ball with the starting group and can run the second unit’s offense. He rebounds incredibly for a man of his stature (8 last night, same as Westbrook) and isn’t afraid of anybody. P-Bev is as important to his team as anybody not named James Harden.
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Prior to Capela going down, he was my pick for Most Improved Player. The chemistry that Harden and Capela had is something I hope picks right back up once he returns. It’s nice having a big who runs the lane, hustles on defense, and doesn’t give up on plays.
Next I would have to say I am most impressed with Dekker and Trez. Those two young studs have injected Houston’s bench with much needed energy and hunger. You see it in the way they play and run the floor. The work they have put in is evident and the team is reaping the rewards. The city is in awe of those guys and it’s for nothing more than their work ethic. Keep it up young Rockets.
Due to his career being overshadowed by injuries, I was kind of skeptical when the Rockets signed Eric Gordon in July. However, much like the Rockets as a whole, Gordon has proven everyone wrong with his spectacular performance so far this year. At this point in the season, I will have to consider Gordon to be just as important, if not, more important than James Harden.
Next: Houston Rockets Fantasy Outlook - First Week of 2017
That does it for the first 3-on-3 for Space City Scoop. If you have any questions you’d like answered for the next one, let us know in the comments or tweet to us at @SpaceCity_Scoop!