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Houston Rockets: How each starter can improve

By Todd Akin
Clint Capela, James Harden of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Clint Capela, James Harden of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets have played well in recent weeks, but each player in the current stating lineup can still make a few improvements.

The Rockets are beginning to find their groove again, as they are slowly returning to last season’s form. But, improvements in certain areas are needed in order to have any chance of doing damage in the playoffs.

So, let’s go down the roster and address the top mistakes each of the main players on Houston is making in a two-part series, and the corrections necessary for them to solve those problems.

Clint Capela

Starting at the center position, Clint Capela needs to stop telegraphing his layups. All too often, Capela catches a great pass in traffic only to get flustered and panic on the dunk.

This is occurring because he is not getting wide enough on his stance after the catch, which makes fakes harder to sell.

In order to get the “Dream Shake” going one day, or just to simply go up and dunk without getting a flat tire, Capela needs to power dribble when he catches the ball, and get LOWER and WIDER in the paint for leverage.

Ater he establishes his dominance in the paint with his new leverage and foot work, pump fakes would work on defenders every time from here on out, which will earn Capela more trips to the free throw line (giving the team valuable breathers in the process).

Eric Gordon

Splash Gordon has seen a boost in his scoring due to being switched into the starting lineup. It is hard to find holes in his game. But, if my life depended on it, I would say he is still missing shots to the left and right, as opposed to short and long, which is an indication of poor mechanics.

Obviously, Gordon has impeccable shooting form. But, perhaps he could focus a bit more on catching the ball squarely so that he can jump forward on his jump shot rather than drifting in the wrong directions to the left and right.

Danuel House Jr.

What can I say about House, other than he revived our team from the dead when James Ennis went out with his injury. His energy and defensive effort are contagious, and his finishes are electric.

The team was struggling to find a spark off the bench and definitely found it in House, which was truly a blessing since we let him go in the summer and were fortunate enough to get him back.

On top of that, now House’s plus/minus stats are getting so good that he has even been moved into the starting lineup in place of the injured Chris Paul.

So, Danuel could work on taking the unnecessary movements out of his jump shot to improve efficiency. But, there’s not much else I can nitpick at for the role he fulfills at the current moment.

PJ Tucker

Tucker was taking fire from the media during his shooting meltdown. But, the undersized forward is back to his stellar 3 and D ways, knocking down corner threes again in brilliant fashion. You hate to criticize a guy who gives his heart and soul to the team each night.

However, Tucker could use a little more play making ability in the paint like he had back at the University of Texas during his glory days. When his three isn’t falling, and he is making silly fouls on the other end of the floor, his perceived value sure vanishes in a hurry.

Escape dribbling the ball back out of the paint upon driving or catching it isn’t such a bad option for him, especially when PJ can do more dribble handoffs and create separation, instead, with those massive picks of his.

But, if he has to make a scoring play in the paint, perhaps try more wrap around passes to Capela, or corner three assists (which is usually open on the drive), instead of the obvious lob that no one else other than Harden or Paul can typically make.

James Harden

Last but not least, our MVP. What can you say about a player who is leading the league in scoring and steals? (Well, top 3 in steals). Let’s just keep this short and sweet. Harden needs to develop a killer instinct. He has everything in his arsenal, except discipline.

One quick fix is to stop throwing risky passes when the lead is close because, these turnovers lead to fast break points and create large scoring swings by the opposing team.

It is almost as if Harden gets bored and beats himself when things are going too well, and punishes the team in the process when he tries to thread the needle to the five man while he is going full speed on the fast break (which he admittedly can make).

Next. Houston Rockets sign Austin Rivers to help guard depth

So, if the players mentioned above (current starting lineup) could make the tweaks necessary to their personal games, the Rockets can go far, indeed.

But, rash decisions like these can’t be made anymore by the leader in Harden if the Rockets have any aspirations of reaching the NBA Finals again. After all, as Harden goes, so goes the rest of the Houston Rocket’s team.

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