5. Isaiah Hartenstein
Isaiah Hartenstein has become a fan favorite in Rockets Nation, although he hasn’t earned his way into the heart of Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni. Like Brooks, Hartenstein was also selected in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft, which is significant value to land in the second round.
Harty had a wildly successful 2018-19 season in the G-League, as he was named to the All-NBDL team, while also leading the Rio Grande Vipers to a 2019 championship. During that series, Hartenstein averaged 28 points, 15.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, while shooting 52 percent from 3-point range.
With this level of play, it was only going to be a matter of time before Harty landed in MDA’s rotation. Harty has gotten that opportunity this season, in part due to Clint Capela‘s injuries early in the 2019-20 season. Hartenstein has continued his stellar play when given the opportunity, as he’s averaged 14.5 points and 12.2 rebounds per 36 minutes this season.
On top of that, the German big man has had a field goal percentage of 65.7 percent, which is second-best on the Rockets, behind only Tyson Chandler. Harty has also had a player efficiency rating of 18.7 and a true shooting percentage of 67.4 percent, which ranks third behind only Jeff Green and Chandler.
Rockets fans have clamored for D’Antoni to give Hartenstein more minutes, especially considering how the Rockets have gone with the small-ball lineup. Harty is a legitimate seven-footer, and the Rockets don’t have anyone in the rotation who is taller than 6’8. Not only that, Hartenstein played well in the two games he started, as he averaged 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks during those games. This includes a massive game he had against the Minnesota Timberwolves, in which Harty had 17 points on 88.9 percent from the field, 15 rebounds, five blocked shots, and two steals.
No matter how you spin it, it’s safe to say the best is yet to come as it pertains to Harty. It’s not likely that Tyson Chandler returns next season, as he quite possibly may consider retirement. This would leave Hartenstein as the only seven-footer on the roster, which could force D’Antoni to give him more playing time down the road.
There have also been rumors swirling that MDA may not be at the helm after this season, and if a new coach wants to play a traditional big man, Hartenstein could be the answer.
Next: No. 4