Houston Rockets: Starting Eric Gordon makes perfect sense
Eric Gordon has been one of the the most important players to the Rockets success since arriving in Houston back in 2016.
On Wednesday morning, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported that Rockets Head Coach Mike D’Antoni was “strongly leaning towards using Eric Gordon as a starter and Carmelo Anthony as a sixth man.”
While at first thought, a starting lineup composed of three guards and an undersized forward seems to put the Rockets at a disadvantage against some opponents. When looked at a bit closer, it makes sense that the Rockets would go with this lineup to start games.
Last year in games 4 and 5 of the Western Conference Finals, the Rockets went with the lineup of James Harden, Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza, P.J Tucker, and yes Eric Gordon to close out those games. Both of these games ended in two huge Rockets victories and brought the team the closest to winning an NBA Championship since 1995 when they last won the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Starting Gordon would be the best move for this Rockets team. Replace Ariza with Clint Capela and the Rockets have a reliable defensive rim protector for those opponents with dominant big men like Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert, and Joel Embiid.
Some may argue that starting Gordon puts them at a disadvantage defensively, but the Rockets switch everything on defense regardless, so even if they inserted a more traditional forward like James Ennis, it is almost impossible for their assignments to not change during the course of each defensive possession.
James Harden and Chris Paul have proven that they are more than capable of holding their own when defending taller players in the post. In fact, Harden was actually one of the best post defenders in the NBA last season.
Eric Gordon as a starter would also allow for Carmelo Anthony to come off the bench and take over that role as the Rockets Sixth Man.
Anthony, who is on record stating that he will do anything to help the Rockets succeed, would be able to come into the game, and in many instances will already be playing with a lead, and would only have to worry about being instant offense to keep the Rockets ahead.
Having Gordon as a starter would also mean that James Ennis will come off the bench alongside Carmelo Anthony, so he could potentially play the role of P.J. Tucker for the second unit.
Also, barring injury, the Rockets will always have at least one of their three guards, Paul, Harden, or Gordon on the court at all times, so Anthony would not even be guarded by the best defender on the court which should help him excel even more.
Starting Eric Gordon from the tip would put many teams at a disadvantage because they will not have the offensive fire power to keep up with Houston.
Ultimately the Rockets have a plethora of depth, and the closer and closer the regular season gets to tipping off, the more excited the Rockets fan base should get. This team has much more talent from top to bottom than the team that was one win away from the NBA Finals a season ago.
Carmelo Anthony, Marquese Chriss, Brandon Knight, James Ennis, Gerald Green, Nene, and Michael Carter-Williams is a lineup that could easily compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and they are all potentially coming off the bench for Houston.
Not even the Golden State Warriors have this much depth.