‘The Houston Rockets won their first game of the Las Vegas Summer League last night, and there was a lot of positives to take away from it. What did the team do well and what will they look like moving forward?
The Houston Rockets were struggling to find ways to win in the Las Vegas Summer League in the first two games of the offseason. They lost by 10+ in each of the contests to teams that should have been beatable (Mavericks, Trail Blazers).
The defense looked horrible and they couldn’t stay in front of anyone, leading to some high scoring losses. The offense couldn’t keep up with the poor defense, leading to some ugly losses early on in the league.
Yesterday, though, the Rockets were able to pull out a win against the Sacramento Kings. The offense finally was able to score 90+ points and they held the Kings to a respectable field goal percentage (41.2%). There were several players that were impressive for the team as the actual Rockets look to potentially fill out some of the roster from the Summer League squad.
Let’s take a look at three takeaways from the first win of the summer.
Next: Guard play
Guard play was incredible
We could write an entire article unto itself about the greatness of Chris Clemons (and we likely will). He has been the story of the Las Vegas Summer League for the Houston Rockets, making many people turn their heads and watch the dude play.
In the first three games for the Rockets, Clemons is averaging 22.3 points per game, third among players in the Summer League who have played at least two of the games for their respective teams. As an undrafted guy, he’s outscoring many of the top prospects and is doing so with some crazy efficiency.
From long-range, Chris Clemons is shooting a blistering 51.4% (18/35). For a team like the Rockets that prioritizes shooting, this is an incredible thing to see. He legitimately deserves a look with the actual squad come training camp and the preseason. Last night, he had 20 points on 6/11 shooting from 3.
Another impressive guard from last night’s game was Chris Chiozza. He had struggled in the first two games but controlled the offense beautifully against the Kings, especially in the fourth quarter. He finished with 10 points (4/5 shooting) and 10 assists, including some highlight-reel ones. Chiozza is another guy looking to make a name for himself after going undrafted last year.
Next: Gary Clark sighting
A Gary Clark Sighting
After two tough games for the forward, Gary Clark emerged and had a huge game for the Houston Rockets last night. He has a real shot at contributing to the team next season with the free agency struggles. Clark is a versatile player that had some great moments of potential last year with the Rockets.
In last night’s game, Clark put up a team-high 24 points and 8 rebounds. He didn’t shoot the ball fantastically (9/22 overall, 4/13 from deep) but he showed an aggressiveness that fans have been waiting to see from him all Summer League.
Clark’s defense, as always, was pretty great. He has the ability to guard the perimeter and post, something that is very valuable in the league today. Will he be able to make the rotation and contribute to the Rockets? An influx of some youth would certainly be a breath of fresh air for the franchise and they might have that with Clark and Clemons.
Oh yeah, and Clark hit the go-ahead shot in the final minute of the game. It’s great to see him taking last night more seriously, hopefully, that’s the case for the rest of the Summer League.
Next: Hartenstein injury
Isaiah Hartenstein out for the summer
Unfortunately, not all of the takeaways are positives. The main prospect for the Houston Rockets, Isaiah Hartenstein, had to be wheeled off the floor after hurting his ankle. Hopefully, it isn’t as bad as it initially looked. Nonetheless, he will miss the rest of the Las Vegas Summer League.
Rockets' Isaiah Hartenstein out for remainder of Summer League with injury https://t.co/6VfCOTHsZx
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) July 10, 2019
Isaiah Hartenstein, like Gary Clark, has a real opportunity to make the roster for the actual Rockets and contribute. He could be the backup center on the team as they have a huge hole there after dropping Nene. Harty had two 20-point games before suffering this injury, so the offense is there. His defense has some question marks, but the former second-round pick is getting close to putting it all together.
In his place, I expect Johnathan Williams to get more of a role, potentially even in the starting lineup for the Summer Rockets. Previously with the Lakers, Williams has some solid potential and showed that last night, putting up 10 points and 9 rebounds in just 20 minutes. We could also see a super-small lineup of Gary Clark at the center, something like a Summer League version of the P.J. Tucker at the center lineup.
Be sure to tune into the last regular season Summer League game for the Rockets tomorrow when they face off against the Jazz. Chris Clemons is worth the watch, at the very least.