Could the Rockets benefit from playing Chris Clemons more?

Houston Rockets Chris Clemons (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Chris Clemons (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets have taken a step back in their 3-point shooting percentage this season, as compared to last season, and are fairly thin in regards to 3-point shooters on the roster. Could Chris Clemons help solve this problem?

Heading into 2019-20 season, Houston Rockets fans weren’t exactly sure what to expect from rookie guard Chris Clemons. Sure he lit up the Summer League hurt the competition isn’t exactly the same as the NBA. On top of that, many of the performances we see in the Summer League don’t translate to the NBA.

Clemons has been an exception to the rule as he shot an unbelievable 43.6 percent from downtown during the Summer League and has followed that up with a 3-point percentage of 36.7 percent, which has made him one of the three best shooters on the Rockets this season. Just imagine that: an undrafted rookie guard has instantly become one of the best shooters on a Rockets team that attempts more treys than every other team in the league.

In spite of that, Clemons hasn’t drawn the favor of Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, as he’s only played in 26 of the Rockets’ 48 games, and is only averaging 8.9 minutes per contest in the games he has played in. This is a bit of a head-scratcher because Clemons brings instant offense, which the Rockets have especially been in need of considering the recent shooting slump James Harden has had (with the exception of Friday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks).

Fortunately for the Rockets, Ben McLemore has found lightning in a bottle and has been lethal from downtown during that stretch, but just imagine if the Rockets were getting that offensive firepower from McLemore and Clemons. Granted, at 5-foor-9 Clemons is a bit undersized, but with D’Antoni turning to the small ball lineup frequently as of late, what does that matter?

On top of that, Harden is clearly nursing an injury, which certainly has played a part in his recent struggles, so why not play Clemons and allow Harden to rest until he’s fully healthy? What’s mind boggling is the fact that D’Antoni didn’t even play Clemons in the Rockets’ game against the Denver Nuggets, in which Harden didn’t play.

During the Rockets’ December 29th loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, Clemons had 16 points on 36.4 percent from long-range, in addition to nine assists. Clemons kept the Rockets in the game in spite of being without Russell Westbrook and James Harden. So why isn’t he getting any playing time? I understand that MDA doesn’t like playing his younger guys, which explains why Isaiah Hartenstein doesn’t receive much playing time, but Clemons fits MDA’s heavy 3-point offense and also fits his small ball fetish as well, so he should be playing more.

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At the end of the day, the Houston Rockets rank 21st in 3-point percentage, so it makes sense to play one of the best 3-point shooters on the team, especially if it would allow Harden to rest and fully heal his injury.