Rolling out a potential lineup with an average height of 6-4, can the Houston Rockets win a championship without a presence in the paint?
After a move was being rumored for weeks, the Houston Rockets made an interesting trade prior to the deadline. The Rockets acquired forward Robert Covington after sending center Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks. It was a four-team trade involving the Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets.
Many questioned this move for the Rockets, being that they don’t have a starting-caliber center on the roster after trading Capela. At 6-7, Robert Covington would be the tallest player in the starting lineup if he starts.
Covington is a great addition to the Rockets due to his defensive presence and ability to hit the three ball, which is music to Coach Mike D’Antoni’s ears. So far this season, Robert is averaging almost 13 points and six rebounds per game to go along with 43.5 percent from the field and 34.6 percent shooting from behind the arc.
The Houston Rockets also acquired power forward Jordan Bell in the trade. Bell has shown that he can play some meaningful minutes for a championship team, just as he previously did for the Golden State Warriors not that long ago.
The Warriors were known for playing small ball frequently, which led them to championship glory. The difference is, the Warriors also had the 6-11 Kevin Durant, Kevon Looney and Andrew Bogut during their dynasty years.
The only players on the current roster for the Houston Rockets that are seven feet tall plus are Isaiah Hartenstein, who barely gets playing time, and an aging Tyson Chandler, who seems to just be there as a veteran presence.
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The question remains, can the Houston Rockets win a championship playing small ball? The answer is yes, due to the NBA finally being equal again.
Being that there isn’t a super team at the moment, the Rockets stand a chance.
With 6-foot-5 P.J. Tucker projected to start at the five, that might be beneficial for many opposing teams. But if the rest of the Rockets can collectively help Tucker crowd the paint area when needed, the strategy of small ball wouldn’t seem so bad.
The thing that will be tough about that for Houston is the perimeter defenders would have to retreat back to the 3-point line if the ball is kicked out. It’s going to take a lot of determination on the defensive end to make things work, which is why coach D’Antoni should start considering having a rotation of eight-to-nine players for the remainder of the regular season.
The Houston Rockets should be able to move up and down the court at a fast pace, which is beneficial for D’Antoni’s offensive scheme. With a potential starting lineup of Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Danuel House Jr, Covington and Tucker, the Rockets can shoot the three ball more than ever.
Clint Capela was unplayable at times against small-ball teams like the Warriors. Now, they don’t have that problem.
The Rockets are on the other end of that spectrum now. If there is a team that is capable of winning a championship with an incredibly small lineup, it’s the Houston Rockets.