The Houston Rockets have been hit with the injury bug for the second season in a row, but are handling it better so far this time around.
For the past two seasons, the Houston Rockets have faced a similar problem early on: injuries. The Rockets lost Gerald Green to a broken foot during the preseason and recently lost Eric Gordon for six weeks due to knee surgery. Those two losses significantly compromised the Rockets’ bench depth, which could mean trouble for Russell Westbrook and James Harden‘s chances of resting.
The Rockets are also now playing without up-and-comer Danuel House due to an injury he suffered on Monday against the New Orleans Pelicans. House’s injury was a big loss, as he’s been one of the Rockets’ best defenders and outside shooters.
The Rockets also lost Clint Capela during Wednesday’s game against the LA Clippers to what appeared to be a concussion. That will also be a major blow to the Rockets, as Capela is one of the best shot blockers in the league and has already had seven double-doubles. Capela is currently averaging a career-best 2.2 blocks per game, which will also be hard to replace or duplicate.
This certainly isn’t the first time the Rockets started the season out with a war of attrition, as they suffered injuries all throughout the 2018-19 season when they lost Chris Paul, Eric Gordon and Clint Capela to injury as well. This forced the Rockets to turn to players such as Kenneth Faried, James Nunnally, Danuel House and Austin Rivers, who were all immediately available.
This year, the situation is a bit different as Rivers and House are already in the Rockets’ rotation, and now half of that tandem is out as well. The Rockets have several intriguing options on the Rio Grande Vipers, which you’d have to think they’ll turn to now.
But the biggest difference between the two seasons has been how the Rockets have responded to the war of attrition, as the Rockets have started the season out 8-3 while riding a 5-game winning streak, compared to the 4-7 start the Rockets had to the 2018-19 season. The Rockets started much worse last season, starting last season 11-14 after 25 games before finishing 42-15 over the course of the last 57 games, culminating with a 53-29 record on the year.
Sure, the Houston Rockets have been the beneficiaries of an easy schedule, which has been made even easier without Paul George, Jrue Holiday, Zion Williamson, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, but the Rockets have still done well considering the major addition of Russell Westbrook and the ramp-up time you’d expect them to need.
To that point, Westbrook has also had injury woes of his own, as he banged knees and has been dealing with injuries to his fingers as well, but he’s been able to push through and play well. Fortunately, House and Capela each have injuries that aren’t expected to sideline them for a significant number of games, but it’s difficult to replace each of them.
For the Houston Rockets’ sake, let’s hope the injury bug stops spreading through the team because the Rockets don’t have the depth they’ve had in past years. On top of that, the Western Conference has gotten much better, so there aren’t any throwaway games this season.
Hopefully, the response to these injuries isn’t to ride Harden and Westbrook, as they both need to be 100% in the playoffs, and not taking on a higher workload would certainly help that happen.