The Houston Rockets picked up three players in a recent trade. Here’s how those guys might fit with the team going forward.
The Houston Rockets, whose record is 32-22, have slightly underperformed this season. Sure, they’re the fifth seed in the west and have plenty of time to move up even higher, but they haven’t been quite as dominant as they were last year.
Injuries have played a role in Houston’s struggles, as has their lack of defensive intensity. Houston’s effort on defense has looked downright lazy at times, but they also don’t have the personnel to excel at the level we saw last season.
Adding defenders on the wing is one of the big reasons the Rockets were viewed as buyers as the trade deadline approached, and unsurprisingly, Daryl Morey pulled the trigger, but this time with a third team involved.
Iman Shumpert headlines Houston’s haul. He’s a very good perimeter defender and a capable shooter and is certainly a step in the right direction. He does add depth to Houston’s rotation, but he doesn’t move the needle significantly when in comes to Houston’s title chances.
The Rockets gave up Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss in the trade, two players who were in the center of Houston’s trade plans for months. Neither Knight or Chriss was a rotational player for the Rockets and they never contributed much in the entire season.
Knight is set to earn over $14 million this season, making him one of the most expensive bench warmers in the NBA. Trading him proved to be a challenge, which is why the Rockets were forced to surrender a first round pick to Cleveland for the trade to go through.
This isn’t a blockbuster move for the Rockets, but it does move them closer to where they want to be. They added wing talent and got Knight’s salary off the books. Here’s a closer look at the Houston Rockets’ newest additions.
Next: Iman Shumpert
For his entire eight year career, Iman Shumpert has earned his money on the defensive side of the ball. The 6-foot-5 guard out of Georgia Tech has good lateral quickness and is a very active defender.
He has no problem extending his defense far beyond the 3-point line and he has very active hands, as he is constantly causing deflections and is excellent at stripping the ball away from players as they go up for a shot.
“He probably has the best hands in the NBA along with Kawhi Leonard, as far as defensively. He just plays, it’s just very, very good basketball. His energy level is at an all-time high, he doesn’t go below 100, which is incredible. He brings something fierce, a competitive nature to our team.”
Shumpert’s offense isn’t his best strength, but he did have a very good year with Sacramento. Shump has averaged 8.9 points on 36.6 percent shooting from 3-point range this season. Shumpert even made 46.4 percent of his shots from the right corner 3
Houston has enough offense to keep pace with anyone, but they rank just 25th in defensive rating. The Rockets need more players that really hang their hat on the defensive end of the floor and Shumpert fits that mold.
Next: Nik Stauskas
Nik Stauskas is a 6-foot-6 guard who was taken with the 8th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft after winning Big Ten Player of the Year with Michigan. Stauskas has bounced around quite a bit in his young career, with short stints in Sacramento, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Portland and now Houston.
Stauskas has mostly been a spot up shooter in the NBA, however, his 3-point percentage has dropped to just 34.4 percent this year. Defensively, Stauskas is serviceable, but you wouldn’t put him on the other team’s premier player.
Stauskas likely won’t get many minutes as a regular in Houston’s rotation. Mike D’Antoni typically doesn’t look deep into his bench and the Rockets didn’t give up any rotational players for the three guys they added. Due to his defensive versatility, Shumpert will likely get some of James Ennis or Gerald Green‘s minutes and Stauskas could see limited minutes here and there.
Although, that doesn’t mean he can’t work his way into the rotation. The Rockets have had a lot of injuries throughout the season and Stauskas could eventually get his time to shine.
Next: Wade Baldwin IV
Wade Baldwin IV
Wade Baldwin IV was taken by the Grizzlies with the 17th overall pick after playing two seasons at Vanderbilt. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Baldwin has good size for a point guard.
In three seasons, Baldwin has played for Memphis and Portland, but he hasn’t received much playing time. Baldwin’s career high for games in a season is just 33 and he has only played in 16 games this season. Baldwin is averaging 1.9 points and 0.8 assists per game this year.
Obviously, Baldwin won’t get much, if any, playing time with the Rockets. Houston could look to trade him or Nik Stauskas before the trade deadline, although they can’t be included in a deal together.
Nick Stauskas and Wade Baldwin IV cannot be aggregated in any trades between now and tomorrow's trade deadline. Both can, however, be traded in separate deals. Houston is still canvasing the trade market to see if any other deals develop. #Rockets
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) February 7, 2019
All in all, the Rockets got a very good defender in Iman Shumpert and unloaded an expensive bench warmer. They had to give up a first round pick in the trade, but that is just the cost of doing business.
I can’t wait to see what Iman Shumpert brings to Houston’s defense.