Houston Rockets: Who should start at small forward next season?
Who should the Houston Rockets have starting this season if Melo does not?
With the Carmelo Anthony signing official, we learned that he is willing to come off the bench for the Houston Rockets this year instead of start at small forward. The decision is still being made this summer by Coach D’Antoni whether or not that should happen, but the option for him to be a reserve is definitely there.
Adrian Wojnarowski, among others, reported that Melo was potentially going to be a bench player for the first time in his career this morning.
Of course, Carmelo Anthony will compete for a starting spot in training camp, but ultimately could come off the bench — based on whatever Mike D'Antoni decides makes most sense for Rockets. https://t.co/1Gn2eJlhye
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 13, 2018
Jonathan Feigen also talked about his willingness to come off the bench:
D'Antoni said he does not know whether he will start @carmeloanthony or bring him off the bench, but that was discussed in the first meeting and Anthony was open to either role. Said @JamesDa_Truth has been overlooked and that he is excited about having him in the mix, too.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) August 13, 2018
So now one big question remains: Who should start at the small forward position for the Houston Rockets next season? Let’s look at some possibilities:
Option No. 1: Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony is very much in the mix when it comes to starting at that small forward spot for the Rockets. While he may be willing to come off the bench, his best role might end up being starting games for the team.
He can have a somewhat similar playing time role to Chris Paul, starting games and then coming back to play against the opposing team’s bench unit. This could be a deadly combination that could devastate second teams across the league.
Still, the best option for Carmelo is probably going to be coming off the bench. He’ll play fewer minutes and be better rested and will be able to focus squarely on getting buckets for the team. A bench of Melo, Eric Gordon & one of the two stars that stay on the court at all times would be incredible to see.
Here are some other options that could start at small forward for the Rockets:
Next: Option No. 2
Option No. 2: James Ennis
This is a very popular option among Rockets fans and people analyzing the starting situation in Houston. James Ennis is a very underrated and great pickup by the Rockets this offseason and might find himself in a starting role on the team with the best record in the league a year ago.
Ennis is someone who can play on both ends of the court, defending the perimeter and knocking down shots from deep. He can fit into almost any role that the Rockets give him and has the versatility to do just that. Pushing Melo to the bench in favor of Ennis makes the starting unit for the team more defensively sound like they were last season.
James Ennis showed his delight in the Carmelo Anthony signing today on Instagram, commenting about how the Rockets are going to the Finals. Melo might just end up being the guy backing him up for the 2018-19 season.
James Ennis (@JamesDa_Truth) is pretty excited for Melo to be in a #Rockets uniform. pic.twitter.com/zselQZfdpf
— Matthew Cardenas (@Matt__Cardenas) August 13, 2018
Ennis is one of the players that the Rockets signed this offseason to counteract the loss of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. Ariza was the starter at small forward until he signed elsewhere, will it be James Ennis for the upcoming year? It’s likely the most realistic option for Houston.
Next: Option No. 3
Option No. 3: Gerald Green
The possibility of starting Gerald Green at small forward isn’t as realistic as James Ennis, but it still could happen. Green is someone who fits in perfectly with the Rockets offensively and could give the Rockets an early chance at burying opponents from deep.
Last season, Green came in halfway through the regular season and produced instantly for the Rockets, averaging 12.1 points per game in just 22.7 minutes a night on a decent 37% from downtown. He was a candidate to drop 30 points on any given night and would light it up when his name was called.
Daryl Morey also believes that Gerald Green will have a bigger role this season. In our interview with him, he said:
“…and Gerald Green we think in his second season can take another step forward. He was sort of born to play in this offense.”
Could the step forward be in reference to him starting at small forward? Probably not, but you never know.
The defensive deficiencies of Green are the main issue with starting him this year. He has his moments and certainly gives an effort on that end, but definitely isn’t the type of defender that can lock down a team’s best player. These issues are similar to those surrounding Carmelo Anthony. The offensive talent of Gerald is likely best coming off of the bench.
Next: Options Nos. 3 and 4
Option No. 4: Eric Gordon (kinda)
Another option for the Rockets would be to start the games small. Having Eric Gordon start in a three-guard lineup featuring James Harden and Chris Paul could lead to some deadly offensive starts for the team.
This is unlikely to happen for a couple of reasons, though. Eric Gordon is one of the best bench players in the league and the Rockets would likely want him to keep that role in the upcoming season. Also, while he is an underrated defender, EG does not have the length to guard the elite small forwards in the league. For those reasons, Gordon will probably not be starting for the Rockets unless there are injuries like last year.
Option No. 5: A traded player
The Rockets are also looking to add another defensive wing before the start of the season. They have had their names connected with several starting-caliber players that could do just that in Houston.
A few players that have been rumored are Nic Batum, James Johnson, Kent Bazemore & Tyler Johnson. The last two likely would be better coming off the bench, as they are shooting guards, but could be an interesting option to start. These potential moves would mainly be to fill the defensive gap left by Ariza and Mbah a Moute. Could one of them come in and start right away for the Rockets?
We have tons of more time to speculate the starters for the Rockets before the season begins. We are excited that Carmelo Anthony is aboard and ready to watch the No. 1 seed in the West last season run it back!