The Houston Rockets have a lot of interchangeable and unselfish role players. So should Mike D’Antoni continue to start PJ Tucker over Ryan Anderson?
After Ryan Anderson went out with an ankle injury, Mike D’Antoni started PJ Tucker at power forward. Anderson has since returned, but D’Antoni decided to stick with Tucker in the starting unit.
In the last three games in which Tucker has started, the Rockets have allowed an average of 22.0 points in the first quarter, which would be the lowest in the league. Houston has given up just 100.7 points per game in their last three games, and it’s hard not to assume that Tucker has had a big effect on Houston’s defense.
The Rockets would win a lot of games starting either player. Although, D’Antoni likes how Tucker sets the tone defensively to start each game, via the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen.
“Probably the biggest advantage is it’s more of a defensive presence when you start the game. That kind of sets the tone with how we want to defend. We switch easier one through four to save Chris and different guys to try to get over screens. And with Luc (Mbah a Moute) and P.J. starting with Clint (Capela), Chris and James the main focus, you don’t have to worry about getting someone off offensively.”
The Rockets average 31.5 points and are leading by an average of 5.3 points after the first quarter, both of which lead the NBA. Obviously, Houston doesn’t have any trouble scoring the ball, so having another defensive minded player in the lineup should help the team out score their opponents by an even larger margin.
Ryan Anderson is willing to accept a bench role
As for Anderson, he is fine with coming off of the bench, via Jonathan Feigen.
“I’m used to it. I don’t know what’s going to be moving forward, but I’m ready for whatever. I know I can contribute for this team regardless, if it’s starting or coming off the bench. I’ve come off the bench and started a lot in my career, both.”
Anderson has started in 281 of his 609 career games. He has excelled coming off of the bench on other teams, and he can for Houston. Anderson gives Houston more of a scoring punch when either James Harden or Chris Paul is running the bench unit. With Capela and either Harden or Paul on the bench, Anderson could get even more shots as a reserve than a starter.
Once Trevor Ariza returns, his sharpshooting will make up for the shooting that Houston’s starting lineup will lose without Anderson. At that point, the Rockets will have a great mix of offense and on defense they’ll have a lot more versatility.