The Rustle in the Starting Lineup: Who should the Rockets start at SF?

In a world where the Houston Rockets arguably have two starting-caliber Small Forwards, one man attempts to decide who deserves the spot. There will be stats, there will be arguments, but there can only be ONE WINNER!

By the way, that person who gets to decide who deserves the spot on the Rockets’ starting lineup? That’s me, in case it wasn’t clear. Now, let’s get started!

Why are we even debating this? Well, it comes down to this: Eric Gordon and Danuel House are both names worthy of the starting lineup in their own separate ways as well as in similar ways. It feels almost paradoxical to ask the question of which player is better, considering how similar their player profiles are. So, here I am trying to solve a paradox. You’re welcome!

Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, one and all! Are you ready to see the fight of the century?

In this corner, we have Eric Gordon! (Insert screaming fans here using your imagination please). He has been an NBA player for over a decade and has much more experience than his opponent, but is father time going to catch up to him tonight?

In the other corner, we have Danuel House! (Insert some more screaming fans here). He is only 25 years old and only getting better, but will his lack of experience make it hard to argue that he is the better player?

Find out when these two matchup RIGHT NOW! Let’s get ready to RUMBLE!

How do our two contestants match up to one another?

Isn’t it great living in the 21st century where all we need to do to compare two players accurately is visit Basketball-Reference.com?! It’s almost better than visiting your new favorite writer here on Space City Scoop! ALMOST. I’m watching you!

Look, there are plenty of arguments you could make, but for the sake of this article we are looking at cold hard stats because numbers don’t lie or judge. Plus, obviously any arguments surrounding experience would go to Eric Gordon and any arguments for potential would go to Danuel House, so those need a tiebreaker anyway. Let’s start by comparing each player’s Per Game stats last year.

Gordon averaged 16.2 points, 1.9 assists, and 2.2 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, House averaged 9.4 points, 1.0 assists, and 3.6 rebounds per game.

“Well, looks like we can pack it up and go hom-” Grab some wood there, bub.

Sure, Gordon has better numbers in two of the three major stats I just outlined, but we are forgetting another major statistic, minutes per game, or MPG, for short. Eric Gordon played a total of 6.6 MPG more than Danuel House. So how do we solve this problem? We look at their Per 36 stats.

Gordon’s Per 36 stats are 18.4 PPG, 2.2 APG, and 2.5 RPG. House’s Per 36 stats are 13.5 PPG, 1.5 APG, and 5.1 RPG.

It’s looking pretty good for Eric Gordon right now. Even with the extra help that House gets from Per 36 stats, Gordon is still outperforming him in PPG and in APG. Unfortunately for Gordon, it’s all downhill from here for him.

Yes, Gordon scored almost 5 PPG more than House. (4.9 to be exact), but he also took an average of 6.6 more shot attempts per 36 minutes per game, which brings us to our next major category for offense: efficiency.

In this category, House (46.8 FG%, 41.6 3PT%, 78.9FT%) blew Gordon (40.9 FG%, 36 3PT%, 78.3 FT%) out of the water in every category except in free throw percentage and even then he still had a higher percentage. Now, it is important to note the difference in the total amount of shots attempted between the two players (Gordon has 938 FGA and House has only 252) as well as the difference between who had to guard who considering Gordon was facing starters while House was playing bench players for the most part.

In the end, I believe the edge goes to Danuel House offensively, but only by a slim margin. He wins out for me due to his much better efficiency and the fact that he will likely improve while Gordon seems more likely to decline.

Well, offense is only half the game. What about defense?

On defense, both players share a similar Defensive Rating with Gordon at 115 and House at 113. They also share a similar DRAYMOND score of +0.45 for Gordon and +0.4 for House.

Again, it’s like they are the same person or something!

On defense, the numbers alone say Gordon should win. (Although, it is very close yet again.) But the “eye test” confirms it too. Gordon is a slightly better defender than House.

So, we have yet another tie in the middle of our tiebreaker, so what can we do?

Well, there is PER. PER is a fairly accurate test of a player’s abilities, but it doesn’t help us at all! Both House and Gordon have the exact same PER (which is 2.2, by the way.)

So, how do we decide?

Asad, you still haven’t told us who should start!

I know, I know! I was getting to that!

So, despite the cold hard statistics, we still ended up in a tie. This is such a close debate that the answer lies in this: it’s all a personal preference now.

Personally, I would give the starting spot to Danuel House since he has the potential to grow as a player and that would put him over the top in comparison to Eric Gordon (who, again, is likely to decline). While Eric Gordon has some very impressive years in the NBA and much more experience, the intangibility of his experience might be more valuable in teaching House than playing ahead of him.

But there are definitely arguments you could make for Gordon as well! Plus, if I had to guess who will end up starting for the Rockets, it is probably Gordon. I just think House would be the better pick, not necessarily the most likely one though.

So, I’m interested in hearing who you think should start! Comment below if you’d like, maybe I missed something crucial in my analysis.

Next: 3 players who have the most to prove in the 2019-20 season

Thank you for reading, and I’ll catch you later on my next article.