MDA has thrown a bit of a wrinkle in the 2019-20 version of the small-ball strategy, as he’s opted to get rid of Clint Capela and play without a traditional center entirely. Although this strangely became a national headline, this was a sign of MDA being up-to-date with the current basketball climate.
Durant is a seven-footer who can play any position on the floor when called upon, and LBJ has the build of a power forward but is arguably the best point guard in the league. In the same fashion, the Rockets have essentially moved Russell Westbrook from point guard to center, which is dangerous for opposing bigs due to his freakish athleticism.
It’s been said countless times but Russ is a mismatch for any big man, due to his ability to get to the rim and superior court vision as a passer. Russ’s passing ability comes in handy when he draws a second defender in the post, which we’ve seen more recently.
This has largely been a successful strategy, as the Rockets have gone 8-2 when they’ve turned to this strategy and are 4-2 since trading Capela. The reasons for the success have been obvious, as there’s simply no answer to a starting rotation of four 36 percent 3-point shooters.
Not only that, the Rockets have improved defensively with the switch to the small-ball strategy, which will happen naturally when you add an NBA All-Defensive player such as Covington.
Covington has a 7-foot-2 wingspan which allows him to roam back and forth between the perimeter and the post, similar to a free safety in football. This strategy has allowed the Rockets to beat some of the better teams in the league, such as the Utah Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics.
Next: Does going all-in on small ball mean D'Antoni's here to stay?