Every championship team needs players to step up and make a huge impact at different times of the year. They are not household names but can change the course of the season. This upcoming campaign the Rockets have three that could step into that role.
Everyone knows about superstars like James Harden and Russell Westbrook and key team players like Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, and Clint Capela. But as fantasy sports players like to say, there are some players who are sleepers, players that every team needs to win. That is where the “Others” come into play.
The Rockets come into the 2019-2020 season with their best chance to win a title in over two decades. With expectations this high, some of the less talented players on the team may not get as much attention, but they are vital to a championship run. In this article, we will discuss the roles these forgotten players could have this year.
Come to find out there is another MVP in the building. The son of Florian Hartenstein, a former University of Oregon center, basketball definitely runs in Hartenstein’s blood. The seven-footer was drafted in 2017 43rd overall by the Houston Rockets.
There have been positive flashes from the big man, as he has shown the ability to switch onto smaller guards and hold his own. His big breakout came last year while playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He was named Finals MVP while leading the Vipers to the G League championship last year. Even though the Rockets brought in Tyson Chandler and have re-signed Nene there are still opportunities for Hartenstein to make an impact this year. Evident by his best game as a pro vs the Golden State Warriors where he played 15 minutes, had five points and six rebounds and was a big reason the Rockets pulled away for an easy win.
Being the third-leading scorer in NCAA Division 1 basketball history should get you more attention. But being 5’9 from a small school like Campbell caused Chris Clemons to go undrafted. At least during summer league, this seems like a case of “can’t see the forest for the trees.”
Showing amazing vertical, an ability to get to the basket and enough skill to shoot off the dribble, Clemons fits in perfectly for the Rockets. During the Summer League games, he averaged 20.8 points a game while shooting 42 percent from three, showing that he can score from anywhere on the floor. The Rockets have four guards in the rotation, so it may seem like there isn’t much room for Clemons. However, with Gordon playing more small forward these days Clemons could run with Austin Rivers and the second unit.
Gary Clark was the first freshman since Lance Stephenson to start from day one for the Cincinnati Bearcats. A multidimensional player in college, Clark was named AAC Defensive Player of the Year. In his first year with the Rockets, he showed an ability to guard multiple positions and hit the three-pointer. The Rockets thought enough of him to convert his two-way contract into a three-year deal. His game went down as the season progressed but he showed enough of a skill set that if he improves his shooting he could eventually carve out a role as a possible back up power forward.
Shaquille O’Neal often uses the phrase “the others” to reference players that play a smaller supporting role on a team. The phrase applies to every player in this article but that could change this year. With a championship-contending team like the Rockets, you need superstars to step up, role players to thrive and the others to show why they belong in the league.