The Houston Rockets have been trying to get some young talent into the rotation a little bit this season. One of those players is a former second-round pick of the team a couple years ago.
The Houston Rockets are struggling right now in all areas. Rebounding has been poor. The defense has been poor. The scoring, at times, has been tough to come around. One of the reasons for this is the shorter rotation that the team has at the moment.
One of the offseason additions, Isaiah Hartenstein, is one of those short rotational pieces. While he’s shown some promise on both ends of the court, his level of play might not be quite ready yet to contribute for a hopeful contender. Still, he has made his way into the rotation as the backup center with Nene injured, so these minutes are great for his development.
Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives from Harty this year:
Hartenstein is a gutsy, energetic player that will go all out on any given night. His effort is something that has been the most impressive in the early goings, even when the other parts of his game might not be there.
You can always count on him to give it his all, which is nice to see from a young player. He’s shown flashes of a solid offensive game and occasionally he can switch onto guards and lock them down. If that is what he ends up contributing at a high level, he can be the backup center to Clint Capela for years to come.
His minutes may start to decrease as Nene comes back, so some further G League development might be in order soon.
While he has certainly had some positive moments so far this year, Hartenstein also has a decent few negatives. Most of them stem from him being a young player in his first NBA season, but they should still be addressed.
The biggest issue I have seen is his interior defense. Yes, he blocks a decent few shots (2.0 per 36 minutes) but he does so while fouling at an extremely high rate. Per 36 minutes, he is contributing 8.9 fouls per game, enough to foul out one and a half times. He won’t likely ever be playing 36 minutes, thankfully, but that’s still concerning.
He showed some offensive moves in the Summer League and in the G League last season, but that hasn’t quite translated to the NBA yet. I’m sure they will whenever he gets a bigger offensive role, but for now, he’s pretty much a finisher of pick and rolls and putbacks.
Hartenstein is a young player with plenty of time and ability to learn in the league. The Rockets found a high-motor player that is overmatched at times on the court, but will always be giving effort.