Jeff Green needs to start at center for the Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets Jeff Green (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Jeff Green (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /
Houston Rockets Jeff Green (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Jeff Green (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

With the Houston Rockets in a major slump, moving Jeff Green into the starting lineup as the team’s center could be one solution to their issues.

Signing Jeff Green was just one of several moves the Houston Rockets made during the week of the trade deadline. While the acquisition of Robert Covington has helped the team the most, Green has also made a positive impact as the Rockets’ new backup center.

Green’s presence has cut down on P.J. Tucker‘s minutes and given Coach Mike D’Antoni a big who can contribute in multiple areas. With the Rockets struggling during the current losing streak, now would be the perfect time to shake up the starting lineup and move Green to the starting center position.

What’s Lacking from the Current Starting Five

Currently, the Rockets are starting Tucker as their small-ball center and Danuel House as their starting small forward. Tucker, of course, brings a lot of qualities to this team. Defense, toughness, and leadership are just a few of his attributes.

A couple of things Tucker lacks, however, are ball-handling and the ability to play above the rim, which are crucial elements in this starting five. Teams are starting to leave Tucker open either in the corner because his 3-point percentage has plummeted or in the paint because he has a hard time finishing at the rim.

On many occasions, James Harden has dropped off passes to Tucker and the 6-5 forward has been getting blocked by bigs or has been unable to convert down low.

At small forward, House has been up and down for most of the season. At times, he looks very athletic and can score in the paint, but too many times he is also having trouble finishing in traffic. If House is moved back to the bench, Tucker can switch over to the power forward position and Robert Covington to small forward.

Green sliding to starting center can give the Rockets more punch from the getgo in a variety of ways.

Next: Green's Numbers Since Joining the Rockets

Houston Rockets Jeff Green (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Jeff Green (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Green’s Numbers Since Joining the Rockets

Since joining Houston, Green has put up great numbers. In nine games, he has an offensive rating of 120.4, a true shooting percentage of 78.4 and is shooting 46.4 percent shooting from deep. Although it’s a small sample size, those numbers across the board are the best on the team through those nine games.

The 33-year-old is also shooting 66.7 percent from the field and averaging 11.2 points in only 20.1 minutes per game. Given that no one was giving him a chance this season after the Utah Jazz let him go, he’s proving not only that he still has plenty to offer, but that he can play a major role on a contender.

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Even while the team has faltered over the last four games, Green hasn’t dipped much. He’s still shooting 36.4 percent from downtown while the starting five as a unit is shooting under 30 percent.

In the humiliating loss to the Orlando Magic at home, Green was one of the few bright spots, putting up 18 points in 27 minutes off the bench on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting night. Of those eight makes, he only shot from beyond five feet one time, nailing his lone 3-point attempt from 23 feet out.

Jeff’s ability to drive has given the team’s offense more unpredictability since he’s not just settling for catch-and-shoots attempts.

Against Orlando, Green also did a good job of rebounding by pulling down five, and also took care of the ball well, committing just one turnover in his 27 minutes.

Next: How Green Can Help the Starters

Houston Rockets Jeff Green (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Jeff Green (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

How Jeff Green Can Help the Starters

Putting Jeff Green at starting center can give the starters more playmaking and rebounding right away, which would certainly help avoid any more embarrassing 20-0 starts to a game.

Green, unlike House and Tucker, can finish in traffic or, if necessary, make the 10-to-15-foot jumper if the defense sags off of him. Green also brings the mobility that Tucker lacks by being able to handle the ball as well as roll to the basket for athletic finishes.

Having Jeff to start the game will also allow for more minutes with Harden, who no doubt has been missing the lob and/or pick and roll option when driving to the basket.

While Green doesn’t quite have Clint Capela‘s height, he’s the closest thing to an alley-oop option on this current roster. Currently, Green is playing about 20 minutes per game, but with the way he’s producing, he should be averaging closer to 30.

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Jeff Green would provide the Rockets a more consistent shooter in the starting lineup while also giving the team another much-needed ball handler. The numbers don’t lie and with their current struggles, the Rockets need more versatile players in their lineup.

The Houston Rockets only have 19 games left in the regular season. D’Antoni is not known for changing his philosophy or strategy too often but the time is now for a major change. Green needs to be moved into the starting lineup and House needs to move back to the bench.

If the change means cutting even more into Tuckers’ player time, that could be another benefit toward preserving the 34-year-old for the playoffs.

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The Rockets need to do whatever they can to secure the highest seed possible as the postseason approaches, and a starting lineup shift could be an important step in doing so.