Houston Rockets: Why is Eric Gordon starting over Danuel House?

Danuel House Jr. #4 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Danuel House Jr. #4 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

With Danuel House being one of the few bright spots for the Houston Rockets, is it really the right call to bench him in favor of Eric Gordon? Here’s why that’s not the best idea.

The Houston Rockets have had great contributions from Danuel House this season, as he’s picked up where he left off during the 2018-19 season. House shot 41.6 percent from downtown last season and led the Rockets in 3-point shooting efficiency as well. Through the first seven games, House is shooting 40.5 percent from deep, which is a team-high amongst players with at least six attempts from deep per contest.

House is currently averaging 12.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game on 29.9 minutes per contest. Through seven games, House ranks fourth on the team in both scoring and rebounding. House has also led the Rockets’ starters in offensive efficiency in three of the first five games on the year as well, and his true shooting percentage of 62.8 percent is only second amongst Rockets players who have played in at least 100 minutes on the season.

Despite the early success and efficiency House has had, Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has tinkered with the idea of playing House with the second unit, and inserting Eric Gordon into the starting lineup instead.

Eric Gordon to start for Rockets vs. Heat. House off the bench.

— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) November 3, 2019

Despite Gordon’s shooting slump, House is averaging less minutes per game than Gordon. Sure, the whole idea is to help Gordon through his early season struggles, but Gordon’s struggles aren’t concerning, as he started poorly last season and was able to find his rhythm as the season progressed.

In the game against the Miami Heat, House played only 19 minutes, which is 10 minutes fewer than he’s averaging on the year. Because of the team deciding to rest Russell Westbrook against the Memphis Grizzlies, Gordon and House each started in that game.

It’s understandable that D’Antoni wants to help Gordon get his shots falling and his confidence back, but if inserting him in the starting lineup is going to mean cutting House’s minutes, that’s certainly not the way to go about it. It’s possible that House wasn’t needed much against the Heat after the game got out of hand early, but House played less minutes than Ben McLemore, Austin Rivers and Chris Clemons, in addition to Gordon during that game.

If House is going to play with the second unit, it would seem like the best approach would be to play him the amount of minutes Gordon was playing off the bench, as House has been one of the few bright spots for the Rockets offensively this season. Gordon has been averaging 31.4 minutes off the bench this season, which excludes the games against Miami and Memphis because he started in each of those games.

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Hopefully Gordon’s insertion into the starting lineup won’t be at the expense of House’s playing time, because the Houston Rockets will certainly need his shooting efficiency. On top of that, House has been hustling on the defensive end, as he finished with three blocks in Monday night’s game against Memphis. House is also one block away from leading the team in total blocks, so he definitely shouldn’t be playing fewer minutes, especially at the expense of Gordon.