The Houston Rockets two game losing streak is proof that a lack of depth is becoming a problem for the team.
Sometimes, too much success can mask the underlying deficiencies of an organization. And that looks to be true for the Houston Rockets.
The Houston Rockets went on a 14 game winning streak between Nov. 16 and Dec. 18. They blasted away teams with their ability to drain an endless amount of free throws and 3-pointers. Chris Paul was dishing out assists left and right and added a nice mid-range presence to a team that shies away from non-paint two’s. The Rockets were winning games by an average of 16.3 points, and quite frankly, they looked like the most unstoppable team in the league.
Unfortunately, the only constant in the NBA is change. Luc Mbah a Moute has missed the past five games with a shoulder injury, Clint Capela has been out with a sore heel and CP3 is sidelined with a strained adductor. The Rockets have now lost two consecutive games, at home, against opponents that are well under .500.
One of the only downsides to trading for a star is that teams have to give up a lot of depth for one player. When Houston acquired Chris Paul, they sent Patrick Beverley, Louis Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins and Kyle Wiltzer to the Clippers. The Rockets lost a lot of depth when they traded for Paul, and it becomes very visible when he doesn’t play.
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With three key players out due to injury, most coaches would go deeper into the reserves of their bench. When Golden State is without multiple starters, they seem to get solid contributions from guys like Jordan Bell and Quinn Cook, even though they play little to no role when the team is at full strength. Cleveland hasn’t had Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose or Tristan Thompson for most of the season, but they’ve turned to guys like Cedi Osman and Jose Calderon to help fill in the gaps.
Even with three players out on Friday night, Mike D’Antoni only played an eight man rotation. Briante Weber got his number called for just the fifth time this season. Weber played for 16 minutes, but he only came up with two points, which were his only points in the entire season.
This is precisely the problem with Houston’s roster. Weber, Bobby Brown, Zhou Qi and Demetrius Jackson simply aren’t good enough for D’Antoni to trust them outside of garbage time. So against the Clippers, James Harden played 41 minutes, Trevor Ariza logged 42 minutes and Eric Gordon was on the floor for over 39 minutes. This sort of workload can really take a toll over the long haul, but its necessary for the Rockets to have a shot at winning ball games, even though they lost to the injury riddled Clippers.
It is imperative for the Houston Rockets to add some NBA ready role pieces before the trade deadline in February. Because if a role player suffers an injury in the postseason, Houston’s championship aspirations may fly out of the window.