Every movie needs extras to fill out the cast and this holds true for basketball teams as well. The Houston Rockets are reported to be bringing in several veterans to help fill out their roster.
The 2019-2020 season is coming up fast and the Houston Rockets Las Vegas mini-camp is being held soon. With only nine guaranteed contracts the Rockets still have to get to the 13 player minimum by the start of the season. Iman Shumpert recently turned down a contract so the Rockets are in the process of bringing in Terrance Jones, Nick Young, Corey Brewer, Raymond Felton, and Thabo Sefolosha for a workout.
Obviously, not all of these players will make the final roster and the Rockets don’t necessarily have a burning need for every player’s skillset. However, Houston does need to fill in some of the holes in their roster and there are one or two players from that list that could certainly play a role in the team’s rotation next season.
As we learned from the Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert experiments, a player’s fit with a team can make or break his tenure. So we decided to create a list ranking these players from worst fit to best fit and picked one player the Rockets should sign. Let’s get started.
Next: Worst fits
The last time we saw Nick Young (aka “Swaggy P”) on the court was with the Denver Nuggets where he only played in four games before being released. In his career, he has played for six different teams with a career average of 11.4 points while shooting 37.6 percent from the three-point line. The Rockets are currently four deep at guard and if you add in Eric Gordon that will make for a crowded backcourt. With this much depth, there isn’t much of a need for Young in the Rockets backcourt. Being an unconscious gunner from deep can be a good trait but with Gerald Green already filling that role the Rockets should consider the other veterans on this list.
In 14 seasons Raymond Felton has played on nine different teams, playing most recently on the Oklahoma City Thunder where he averaged 4.3 points while only shooting 40.3 percent from the field. Felton falls into the same category as Young where he would be added into an already crowded backcourt. The Rockets already have options when it comes to a back up point guard with Austin Rivers staggering Harden and Westbrook’s minutes. Chris Clemons is likely to be added to the permanent roster and could also take some of the backup minutes. Adding Felton doesn’t make much sense when the Rockets are still thin at the forward position.
Next: Possible but not perfect fits
The former Houston Rocket has been around the block and back. From his initial stint with the Rockets from 2012 to 2016 and brief appearances with the New Orleans Pelicans, Milwaukee Bucks and a two 10 day contracts back with the Rockets. He also spent time in the Philippine Basketball Association. His best year was the 2013-2014 season where he averaged 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds for the Rockets. The Rockets do have a need for a backup power forward because of right now its P.J. Tucker and Gary Clark, but Clark fell out of the rotation last season.
The issue with Jones is he hasn’t played consistent NBA minutes in years. His last meaningful minutes were in the 2016-2017 season with the New Orleans Pelicans where he averaged 11.5 points a game. The strength of Jones’ game is his ability to take other big men off the dribble. Also over his career, he has averaged 1.2 blocks a game which could certainly help a Rockets team that ranked just 18th in blocks per game last season.
Another former Rocket that is attending the minicamp in Vegas is Corey Brewer. The 12-year veteran played three years for the Rockets from 2014 to 2017 and is known for his high energy and frantic defensive style. Like P.J. Tucker, Brewer has certainly never lacked in the hustle department.
The problem comes in when looking at the career 28.4 shooting percentage from the three-point line. This issue was what ultimately led the Rockets to move on from Brewer in 2017. The Rockets are thin when it comes to depth on the wing and Brewer would bring much-needed defense to that position but with his below-average shooting, he doesn’t bring enough to the table to warrant a roster spot. Bringing in a non-shooting wing on the wrong side of 30 will not help the Rockets take the next step.
Next: The wing player the Rockets need
Never known for his offensive prowess, Thabo Sefolosha averaged a modest 5.9 points per game in his career. He is known for being a lockdown defender and an average three-point shooter with a career 35.2 shooting percentage. Gary Clark, Danuel House, P.J. Tucker, and Eric Gordon are currently the team’s only forwards, but Clark isn’t apart of the rotation and Gordon is really a guard, so Houston is thin a forward.
Sefolosha is the type of 3-and-D wing the Rockets haven’t had since the departures of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. Sefolosha’s best days may be behind him but he is still a great perimeter defender with great length, something the Rockets could definitely use in the playoffs. Last year, Sefolosha played in 50 games for the Utah Jazz where he shot 43.6 percent from three-point range which is well above average. If he can come anywhere close to those shooting numbers playing for the Rockets he would be the perfect addition to the roster and he can play either forward positions.
With several players fighting for four roster spots, Houston has to pick the right end of the bench piece, as it could be the difference between winning and losing a game in the playoffs. Of all of the players that will be at Houston’s mini-camp, Sefolosha is definitely the best fit.