Houston Rockets: Will Clemons and McLemore each earn roster spots?

Chris Clemons #59 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball against the Utah Jazz (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Clemons #59 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball against the Utah Jazz (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images) /

This offseason, the Rockets signed sharp-shooting guards Chris Clemons and Ben McLemore to non-guaranteed deals. But will they both make the roster? Here’s why I think the Rockets will have a decision on their hands!

The Rockets have made no secret about the fact that they love to shoot from deep, as they’ve finished top 10 in three point attempts per game in each of the last 13 seasons. In fact, they’ve only had one season in the last 7 years where they didn’t finish first in that category, which was in 2016, and they finished second that year.

Due to this love for shooting treys, they are always seeking to add players that can shoot from downtown. This is why it made sense when the Rockets added Chris Clemons and Ben McLemore to the team, as both are three point shooters.

McLemore shot 41.5% from deep last season and has a career three point shooting percentage of 35.3% through 6 seasons. Clemons recently starred in the Las Vegas Summer League finishing with 20.8 points per game, good for 10th best. More impressively, he shot 43.6% from downtown! Clemons also has shown he’s got incredible shooting range.

@jharden13 @idropcoldbucks from the 4 point line! @thebig3

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But will McLemore and Clemons both make the team? The Rockets have significant depth at the guard position, which complicates the matter. If they were in the same situation as Isaiah Hartenstein, for example, there would be a much greater possibility of each player making the roster. This is because the Rockets are fairly thin at the center spot behind Clint Capela and veteran Tyson Chandler. The Rockets are fairly deep at guard, however, as they’ve got an MVP backcourt of James Harden and Russell Westbrook and a possible tandem of Austin Rivers and Eric Gordon coming off the bench.

Sure the Rockets have made mention of resting James Harden and Russell Westbrook in favor of load management, but it’s not necessarily coach Mike D’Antoni‘s style to keep 6 guards on the roster. This is why I think it’s unlikely that both Clemons and McLemore will stay on the roster.

If it comes down to one or the other, I would like to see Clemons make the team, but I honestly wonder if either of them will be on the team, as D’Antoni doesn’t like to go deep into his bench. This obviously eliminates the need for depth amongst the reserves. The minutes distribution last season is a prime example of that, as the Rockets relied on Harden, Gordon, Rivers and Chris Paul, who were the only guards on the team to play more than 1300 minutes last season. The previous season was the same story, as Harden, Paul and Gordon were the only guards to play more than 1800 minutes that year.

This is why I question whether we will see both Clemons and McLemore on the Rockets next season. The most likely scenario would be for only one of them to make the roster, meaning each player is likely competing against each other for a roster spot. If it comes down to this, I’d definitely expect Clemons to beat out McLemore, as he is younger and has far more upside. Not to mention the fact that he’s been impressing the Rockets all off-season, according to Bijani.

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This will be interesting to follow during training camp and the pre-season but I wouldn’t expect us to see both players make the team.