The Houston Rockets decided to call up Isaiah Hartenstein and Gary Clark from the Rio Grande Vipers. Here’s why that decision should come as no surprise!
The Houston Rockets have surely not had the start to the season that they would have imagined, as they narrowly defeated the Washington Wizards and got blown out by the Miami Heat. The most concerning thing about each of those games is that neither of those teams made the playoffs during the 2018-19 season.
The Rockets also defeated the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder by a combined 11 points, which is troublesome considering the fact that neither of those teams are contending this season. The Rockets need to make improvements, and it’s only natural for them to take a look at the Rio Grande Vipers, who are the Rockets’ G-League affiliate. The Rockets have already began doing so, as they’ve already called up Isaiah Hartenstein and Gary Clark, according to Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic.
The #Rockets have recalled forward Gary Clark and center Isaiah Hartenstein from their single-affiliation G League partner Rio Grande Valley.
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) November 10, 2019
Hartenstein is a no-brainer, as he’s a 7-foot rim protector, and the Rockets could use more size and defense. Mike D’Antoni has made it clear that he wants to save reserve center Tyson Chandler for the more meaningful minutes, which has culminated in Clint Capela playing a combined 76 minutes against the Golden State Warriors and the Chicago Bulls. Capela’s 41 minutes were a game-high against the Bulls, and its obvious Capela can’t be relied on to play that amount of minutes over the course of the season. Hartenstein also has an offensive game, as he averaged 28 points and 15.7 rebounds per game during the G-League Finals. During the Vipers’ opener, Hartenstein had 25 points on 8-of-16 from the field, in addition to 21 rebounds and five assists.
Gary Clark is also an unsurprising call-up, as he’s known for his defense, which the Rockets have not being playing much of this season. The Rockets are allowing 118.7 points per game, which is 25th best in the league, on 37.6 percent from deep, which is 26th best. This is concerning because the Milwaukee Bucks are the only legitimate contender the Rockets have faced this season.
Clark led the Vipers in scoring during the Vipers’ opener, as he had 27 points in addition to nine rebounds and four steals. Clark also made five 3-pointers during the Vipers’ win, and shot 33.3 percent from downtown, which would be an improvement from last season when he shot 29.7 percent from deep.
Considering Hartenstein and Clark’s strengths on the defensive end, the Rockets’ defense will benefit from the decision to call up each player.