Why D’Antoni needs to trust the Houston Rockets’ secondary bigs more

Gary Clark #6 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images)
Gary Clark #6 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets have been without Clint Capela for three games already this season, and the Rockets have been victorious in each game thanks in large part to the secondary rotation of bigs. Here’s why Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni should trust them more!

Aside from the question of how Russell Westbrook would fit in, one of the biggest questions facing the Houston Rockets heading into the 2019-20 season was regarding their bigs. It was clear that the Rockets biggest weakness was their lack of depth among their big men behind Clint Capela.

During the 2019-20 season, the Houston Rockets have been without the services of Clint Capela for three games and the Rockets have actually won all three games. During the first two games, the Rockets turned to Tyson Chandler and Isaiah Hartenstein for essentially all of the minutes.

During the most recent game against the Miami Heat, the Rockets turned to Gary Clark for 29 minutes, which resulted in a positive. Clark had 7 points in the first half alone, as the Rockets turned to him early in the second quarter, which was a big surprise. Clark would play the entire second quarter and finished with 12 points on 33.3 percent shooting from deep and 50 percent from the field. As if that weren’t enough, Clark had eight rebounds and joined James Harden as one of the only two Rockets players with a blocked shot.

During the first game without Capela this season, the Rockets faced off against the Indiana Pacers and played Chandler and Hartenstein a combined 37 minutes. The tandem of secondary bigs accounted for six points, six rebounds and two blocks. During the Rockets’ second game of the 2019-20 season without Capela, which was against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the tandem of Hartenstein and Chandler combined for six points and a gaudy 20 rebounds, thanks in large part to Hartenstein’s 16 total rebounds.

The Rockets’ game Wednesday night game against the Miami Heat was their third game without Capela during the 2019-20 season, and the Rockets were just fine without the 25-year-old Switzerland big man. The Rockets ended up winning 117 to 108 and the trio of Clark, Harty and Chandler combined for 46 minutes. The trio combined for 14 points and 11 rebounds, although Clark was also responsible for the bulk of that production.

Clark had an offensive rating of 137 points per 100 possessions, which was second best to only Danuel House. Wednesday night’s rematch against the Heat was a great example of why Clark should have been getting more minutes all along, as the Rockets don’t have anyone else with the ability to block shots and shoot threes. On top of that, the Rockets aren’t getting any offensive production from their second unit and Clark could change that.

The fact that the Rockets have gone undefeated without Capela should give D’Antoni the confidence to turn to his secondary rotation of bigs more. Because at the end of the day, Clark wouldn’t have even had the opportunity to play that many minutes were it not for Capela being injured for the Heat game. We generally only see Clark enter the game when the game is largely over, either because the Rockets are blowing out their opponent or because the game is out of reach for the Rockets to come back.

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Hopefully this will change moving forward!