The Rockets have more lineup questions than any team in the NBA. Mike D’Antoni needs to find answers during the Rockets’ three scrimmages to prepare for a deep playoff run.
Over the course of the 2019-20 season, no team has encountered as much change as the Houston Rockets. Their odyssey began in the summer when they flipped Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook but it veered completely into the unknown when they shipped out Clint Capela, completely eschewing the traditional center, in a quest to produce ever more space and pace.
No contender has spent as little time together on the court as the Rockets have and as a result, the NBA’s restart scrimmages will be incredibly consequential to Mike D’Antoni and his staff as they have many more questions than answers about this team.
If the Rockets are going to hit the ground running and vault from the sixth seed to the third seed, they’ll need to answer these seven questions, beginning with the starting lineup
1. Do the Houston Rockets really have their best starting five set?
The quintet of Robert Covington, James Harden, Danuel House, Russell Westbrook and P.J. Tucker has seen its ups and downs and has only started 10 games together. They started on fire, winning five of six, and then quickly reeled off a losing streak to bring their overall record to 6-4.
The positive news is that the group has outscored opponents by 12.2 points per 100 possessions, but the recent losses to the Knicks, Hornets, and Magic have raised some serious questions.
Finding out if this is the Rockets’ best starting lineup in the restart scrimmages will be crucial for D’Antoni because game one of the restart is probably Houston’s biggest game of the season. The Mavericks are longshots for the sixth seed, and their best hope of moving out of a first round matchup with one of L.A. teams is by beating the Rockets.
Conversely, the Rockets can almost guarantee they won’t fall to the seventh seed by beating the Mavericks. D’Antoni needs to know who’s in his best starting five right from the get-go.