The Houston Rockets lack of depth is so blatantly obvious that even Mike D’Antoni has acknowledged it in the media. He says the players are doing the best they can.
Just over a week ago the Houston Rockets were enjoying the highs of a five game winning streak. Most of the main guys were healthy and Houston defeated Denver and Golden State, two of the top teams in the west, by double-digit points during the streak. The early season misery inflicted on this team was long gone and they were ready to really start climbing up the conference standings. Unfortunately, the misery has returned.
The Rockets have now dropped four games in a row, losing two in overtime. Of the four losses, three came against teams that are unlikely to make the playoffs, including the tanking Cleveland Cavaliers.
Chris Paul has missed three consecutive games while Gerald Green has missed the last two. These recent injuries have exposed Houston’s biggest problem: depth. The Rockets quickly brought up Danuel House from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, who has averaged 26 minutes in his first two games with the team.
After House, Gary Clark and Isaiah Hartenstein are the next two guys off the bench and Michael Carter-Williams and Marquese Chriss may receive spot minutes but are pretty much limited to garbage time minutes only.
Without Paul and Green, Houston’s bench rotation consists of a G-League player and two undrafted rookies. It’s not hard to see how that could hold the Rockets back from winning more consistently.
Mike D’Antoni acknowledged that the team’s lack of depth is a problem after they were blown out by the Mavericks, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
“Obviously, it’s a problem. It’s something that I know that the front office tried to address. They’re going to do the best they can. No blame going around; it’s just the way it is.”
Over the last three games without Paul, Harden has averaged 39.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 14.3 assists and 3.3 steals in 42.8 minutes of play. Although, he’s also averaged 9.3 turnovers over that stretch. Clearly, Harden’s workload is even heavier than it normally is, but these kind of minutes aren’t sustainable for a long period of time.
Fortunately, Chris Paul and Gerald Green are expected to return on Friday. Harden and Paul’s greatness tends to mask a lot of Houston’s problems, since the Rockets have the luxury of having one or the other on the floor running the offense at all times.
But Dec. 15 is a date to keep an eye on, because it’s when a rule restricting teams from trading free agents that signed in the offseason expires. It’s when James Ennis, Gerald Green, Carmelo Anthony and Michael Carter-Williams can all be moved.
I completely expect the Rockets to make a trade or two sometime between Dec 15 and the trade deadline in February, because they can’t take this team into the postseason (assuming they win enough games to make the playoffs) and expect them to sink Golden State’s ship. There’s just too many holes in our boat.