The five Houston Rockets included on SI’s top 100 players of 2019-20
No. 74: P.J. Tucker (85 last year)
P.J. Tucker, the Rockets’ emotional leader and defensive stopper, comes in at number 74 on this year’s top 100 list. It’s always hard to debate about the order of players rated this low in a list because there is such an immense pool of talent in the NBA.
Let’s be honest, none of the players directly above Tucker on the list have the overall impact that he has, especially on a championship-caliber team. It’s tough to accurately quantify Tucker’s value to the Rockets as their quarterback on defense.
During an exchange on Twitter, a certain former MVP named Kevin Durant even said that P.J. Tucker is the best defender he’s ever faced throughout his time in the league. While the league knows about Tucker’s exceptional ability to check his man one-on-one, he still is somehow slightly underrated in that aspect.
Looking back at last year’s playoffs — while Tucker was guarding Kevin Durant, he shot 43.6 percent from the field. When Tucker was off the court, Durant made a substantially higher 58.8 percent of his shots.
This shows how invaluable Tucker is on the defensive end, considering Durant is one of the best scorers of all time. Tucker does a great job at staying in front of his man and getting a hand up to contest shots.
In addition to his defense, Tucker also led the league in corner 3-pointers made last year. This skill will definitely help keep the floor spread for Harden and now Westbrook. P.J. Tucker should be ranked a bit higher on this list.
Next: Eric Gordon