How the Houston Rockets match up against the Los Angeles Lakers

By Tevin Williams
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
4 of 5
PJ Tucker #17 of the Houston Rockets
PJ Tucker #17 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

How the Rockets match up on defense

Matching up with LA defensively could be a challenge for Houston, especially if the Lakers decide to go big. According to reports, the Lakers intend to move LeBron to point guard this season. So far in the preseason, the Lakers have started James at point guard once, but in the last two games, they’ve started Rajon Rondo at point guard and moved James back to his traditional position at small forward.

Obviously, the Lakers are still experimenting with their starting lineup, and we likely won’t know what the rotation will look like until the season starts. However, if the Lakers start a bigger lineup with LeBron, Davis, McGee or Howard at center, Danny Green and one of Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Avery Bradley, that could be a tough matchup for Houston’s defense.

Clint Capela would have to take the center, but since the Rockets use a three-guard starting lineup with Harden, Westbrook and Gordon, Houston will be giving up a lot of size everywhere else. If P.J. Tucker defends Anthony Davis, who guards LeBron? All three of Houston’s guards are giving up serious size and strength against James.

Over the past couple of years against Golden State, the Rockets were able to put P.J. Tucker on Kevin Durant and assign James Harden to Draymond Green. That worked for Houston, because Green is an undersized power forward and he isn’t a scorer or a shooter.

However, putting Tucker on LeBron and moving Harden down to Davis wouldn’t be as successful, as Harden would be giving up about six inches and thirty pounds to Davis, which is not ideal against a lengthy superstar who can drop 30 in his sleep. Not to mention, the Rockets, who finished 28th in rebounds last season, would struggle to grab rebounds against such a big lineup.

The Rockets will have a more favorable matchup against LA if they decide to start Davis at center. In that case, Capela can check Davis while Tucker covers LeBron, and Houston should be able to keep the rest of LA’s lineup in check.

Next: Season series prediction