The Houston Rockets decided to play Chris Clemons Sunday night against the Miami Heat. Here’s why Clemons should be part of the rotation moving forward.
The Houston Rockets decided not to play rookie reserve Chris Clemons in any of the first five games of the season, despite needing more productivity from the second unit. On Sunday against the Miami Heat, D’Antoni finally decided to play Clemons, as he checked into the game with 55 seconds remaining in the first quarter. At that point of the game, the Rockets were losing 41-14, so it was essentially garbage time, which is strange to say during the first quarter of the game.
It’s an extremely small sample size, but Clemons shot 2-of-5 from deep in the second quarter. In addition, his six second quarter points ranked second on the Rockets, behind only James Harden. Clemons didn’t play significant minutes again until the fourth quarter, as he played the entire period. During that quarter, he had 10 points, which tied for the most points of all players in the game. Clemons shot 3-for-5 from the field and 2-of-4 from behind the line during the fourth, and finished the game with 16 points while shooting 50 percent from the field and 44 percent from deep.
On the game, Clemons had 16 points, making him the second leading scorer on the Rockets, and he shot 44 percent from deep and 50 percent from the field, which were both bests amongst all Rockets who played in at least 21 minutes in the game.
Obviously it’s a small sample size and it was also garbage time when Clemons played his most meaningful minutes of the season, but the Rockets could certainly use his shooting efficiency, especially from deep. Clemons shot 43.6 percent from deep during the Summer League, and the Rockets are currently shooting 30.7 percent from 3-point range. To put that into perspective, that is the lowest the Rockets have performed from deep since the 1987-88 season, in which they shot 23.7 percent from beyond the arc.
It goes without saying that Clemons’ 3-point shooting efficiency would really help the Rockets, but his presence would also instantly improve the Rockets’ bench scoring, as his 16 points are the most any non-starter has scored for the Rockets all season. In addition, his effective field goal percentage was 70 percent, and his true shooting percentage was 73.5 percent, which were both team-highs amongst players who played in at least 21 minutes.
Hopefully Clemons’ 21 minutes against the Heat are an indictment of things to come, and weren’t just due to the game being out of reach. But even if D’Antoni was just clearing the bench, Clemons’ performance should have been enough to have earned him a permanent spot in the rotation moving forward!