7 NBA awards Houston Rockets have a chance at winning this year
Most Improved Player – Danuel House, Jr.
While showing high potential at Texas A&M and during his first couple of years in the NBA, Danuel House has been hampered by injuries since entering the league in 2016. Less than two weeks after making his debut with the Washington Wizards, the small forward fractured his wrist and wouldn’t see NBA action again until a year later with the Phoenix Suns.
After brief stints in the NBA G League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, House found his way to the Rockets in November of 2018, where he finally found a home. The 26-year-old averaged 9.4 points and 3.6 rebounds for Houston last season in 25.1 minutes per game. Still, injuries plagued House last season as well.
Over the course of the season, House suffered a knee contusion and later an inflamed toe that sidelined him for part of the playoffs. Still, Danuel showed enough to the Rockets staff to warrant a three-year, $11.1 million extension last June.
Now on a team with Russell Westbrook and James Harden expected to dominate the ball, House is in a great spot to contribute in the variety of ways he’s capable of without risking too much. Mike D’Antoni has one of the deepest rosters in the league now and should be able to manage everyone’s minutes without losing too much in quality on the court.
While D’Antoni has stated Eric Gordon will be starting for the time being, there’s a strong chance that a switch to House might be made soon if the Rockets start off the season getting outrebounded often with such a small starting unit. Starting could improve House’s confidence, minutes and ultimately his chances at an NBA Most Improved Player award.
Odds to win: Decent
Sixth Man of the Year – Eric Gordon
This pick goes hand-in-hand with Danuel House, Jr.’s chances for Most Improved Player, as it also hinges on a change to the Rockets’ starting lineup. For Eric Gordon to be eligible to win Sixth Man of the Year this season, he will only have to come off the bench more often than he starts.
As already discussed, there’s a chance Mike D’Antoni will need more rebounding in his starting lineup and more scoring off of the bench, so a swap of Gordon and House would make perfect sense. With Westbrook, James Harden and just about any combination of three Rockets, Houston will have plenty of offense in the starting unit.
Considering how the Rockets are constructed this year, Eric Gordon would undoubtedly have greater success if he comes off the bench. E-Money is a career 16.7 points per game scorer, and would only improve on that number if facing opposing benches.
Eric Gordon is also no stranger to the Sixth Man of the Year honor, as he won it in 2016-17 in his first season with the Rockets.
Odds: Good (if he ends up coming off the bench)
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