Coach D’Antoni is known not to play deep into his bench for the Houston Rockets. In the playoffs when it counts, D’Antoni generally is very selective with who he plays. Here’s why he won’t have any excuse not to do the same thing this season.
Mike D’Antoni doesn’t generally play his entire second unit for the Houston Rockets, which arguably puts a bigger burden on his stars, specifically James Harden. This past post-season, D’Antoni strayed away from his reserves despite having Danuel House, Austin Rivers, Iman Shumpert, Gerald Green and Kenneth Faried to turn to.
This Rockets second unit was beyond good enough to warrant minutes in the playoffs last season. But the Rockets will have no reason not to play their bench this season, as they will have up-and-comer Danuel House for a second go-round, Austin Rivers (who shot 45.7% from deep in the playoffs) and former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler.
In addition, they will also have Gerald Green, who feels he has something to prove as he’s been slept on around the league. If D’Antoni wants to get the most out of Russell Westbrook and James Harden this year, he will have to turn to his bench. We know the Rockets plan to put James Harden and Russell Westbrook on a load management plan, and that will be impossible without turning to the second unit. The Rockets would be very unwise to overload Eric Gordon, as he’s shown to be injury-prone over the course of his career.
In order to prevent Harden and Westbrook from getting overworked, we will have to turn to Rivers and House especially. Rivers averaged 12.4 points per 36 minutes in the playoffs and House led the Rockets in 3-point shooting, as he shot 41.6% from deep over the course of the season. Green also shot 35.3% from 3 and averaged 16.5 points per 36 minutes this past season also. This is not to mention Tyson Chandler, who still has valuable contributions to bring to the table even at this point in his career.
There is also the possibility that Anthony Bennett and/or Ben McLemore could make the team as well, who both signed non-guaranteed deals. On top of that, Chris Clemons could also be an option. Clemons showed his deep shooting range in the Summer League and would seem to fit in with what the Rockets would want.
So Mike D’Antoni will have no excuse not to play his bench and keep his big three of Harden, Westbrook, and Capela fresh this season as the Houston Rockets will actually have other options to play in place of their core.