The Houston Rockets are intent on playing small ball in 2021. With no draft picks and limited cap space, they’ll need to be active in the trade market to upgrade their roster. Here are three trade targets who could thrive playing small ball.
The Houston Rockets want to continue to play small ball. While this has brought criticism from many former players, small lineups are utilized by almost every team in the league today. Where the Rockets differ is that their roster doesn’t include a plan B option if small ball isn’t effective.
The downside to this approach reared its ugly head as the Lakers made quick work of the Rockets in the second round. However, the Rockets’ all-in strategy to small ball does have one particular upside.
The upside for an all-in approach to small ball is a player at the backend of a team’s roster, with little value to them, might be able to morph into a small-ball stud for the Rockets. The Rockets’ ever-ballooning payroll has brought them face to face with the upper echelons of the luxury tax. In short, there is an intense demand for the Rockets to squeeze as much value as possible out of every player on their roster.
As last season showed, players new to small ball can come in and look completely different. The Utah Jazz waived Jeff Green in the middle of the season. Why? He plain stunk as a power forward and small forward for them. In 18 games for the Rockets, he posted some of the best numbers of his career, not as a power forward but as a center.
Green saw an uptick in scoring, scoring efficiency, assists, steals, and blocks. There are Jeff Greens all over the league just waiting to be scooped up and placed into the right role, system, and situation. The Rockets need to scour the back end of rosters for low-cost trade targets that can similarly flourish in a new small-ball role.
These three realistic trade candidates could blossom in a small-ball system and help the Rockets, once again, be title contenders.