Rockets: Will Danuel House regain the confidence of Mike D’Antoni?

Houston Rockets Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

With Houston Rockets forward Danuel House back in the starting lineup, House has a golden opportunity to gain the confidence of Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni.

The Houston Rockets’ final preseason scrimmage led to a roller coaster of emotions for Rockets fans. The Rockets closed out the preseason with a 2-1 record, and were winning through three quarters of the opening game they lost against the Toronto Raptors, before James Harden was removed from the game.

But the Rockets also suffered an untimely injury to Eric Gordon, who had just won the starting job over Danuel House. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni offered a blunt assessment in his explanation of why he opted to start Gordon over House, to say the least.

Mike D’Antoni on why Danuel House is no longer in the Rockets starting lineup: “He’s not as good as the other 5 guys.”

— Adam Spolane (@AdamSpolane) July 26, 2020

Gordon was later determined to have suffered an ankle sprain, which is expected to sideline him for up to two weeks. Following the injury to Gordon, D’Antoni stated that House will in fact be back in the starting rotation, which gives the 27-year-old forward an opportunity to get back in D’Antoni’s good graces.

But why wasn’t that the case all along? The simple answer is regression.

House made 36.3 percent of his treys in 2019-20, which is a bit of a stepback from the 2018-19 season, in which he led the team in 3-point percentage, making 41.6 percent of his triples.

House also regressed in player efficiency (12.2 in 2018-19 to 11.4 this season), true shooting percentage (64.6 percent to 57.1 percent), and field goal percentage (46.8 percent last season to 42.7 percent this season). But House has had improvements in points, steals, blocks, rebounds, assists, defensive rating, and offensive win shares, while also doubling his defensive win shares year-over-year.

In addition, the Rockets are 19-12 when House scores in double figures. The Rockets also went 4-7 when House came off the bench this season, compared to 32-15 with him in the starting lineup.

Replacing Eric Gordon

But House surely won’t be the Rockets’ only replacement for Gordon, as they’ve got a plethora of options of how to split Gordon’s minutes, due to the depth of the roster, which shows the commendable job Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has done in constructing the roster.

We likely will see an uptick in minutes for Ben McLemore, who has shot lights out this season, finishing inside of the top-25 in 3-pointers made. But McLemore’s deficiencies on the defensive end leave much to be desired, which could lead to an increase in minutes for Austin Rivers, who played well in the Rockets’ final scrimmage against the Celtics.

The Rockets will also be relying on Jeff Green, who has been a perfect fit as a small ball center, and can also be slided to either forward spot. DeMarre Carroll also warrants playing time, but he didn’t yield much action prior to the league stoppage, as he played in just six games, although he was eligible for 10 games with the Rockets in 2019-20. Carroll averaged just 16 minutes with the Rockets this season, and even suffered an injury during the Rockets’ training camp.

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The Rockets’ injury to Gordon certainly isn’t ideal, and especially not with their season set to resume on Friday, but the Houston Rockets have the depth to withstand his absence for two weeks. The injury also gives House an opportunity to regain the confidence of Mike D’Antoni.