Although Houston Rockets reserve Chris Clemons didn’t receive much playing time as a rookie, Clemons praised the Rockets for simply giving him an opportunity.
Heading into the 2019 offseason it was clear that the Houston Rockets needed to add young, developmental talent, as they were one of the oldest teams in the 2018-19 season. But the Rockets didn’t have any draft picks in the 2019 NBA Draft, which made it a tough task to add young, emerging prospects.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey was forced to try finding a diamond in the rough, which was even a tall order for Morey, who took home the 2016-17 Executive of the Year, and has entrenched himself as one of the best general managers in the league. Morey stumbled upon former Campbell sensation Chris Clemons, who remains the third-highest scorer in NBA history and was coming off his senior campaign in which he averaged 30.1 points per game, which led the nation.
The 5-foot-9 guard showed out in the Summer League, as he posted averages of 20.8 points per game on 43.6 percent from deep, which was a clear indication of Clemons’ ability to light up the scoreboard. Clemons made his regular season debut against the Miami Heat, who were the eventual Eastern Conference champions, and scored 16 points on 44 percent from deep in 22 minutes of play.
Clemons posted a true shooting percentage of 73.5 percent in the contest, which was even higher than James Harden on that day. Clemons received significant playing time during the Rockets’ November 16th matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves, as he played 28 minutes, while scoring 19 points on 86.4 percent true shooting.
The Rockets faced a decision to make on Clemons, as he ran out of eligible days in which he could be on a two-way contract. With Clemons’ long-range shooting ability and the Rockets’ lack of young talent, the Rockets were essentially forced to convert his two-way contract into a standard deal, which is exactly what they did early into the season.
Why Clemons deserves praise for handling of Rockets’ situation
Clemons recently joined Pro Humps to express his appreciation towards the Rockets for not only picking up his contract, but for giving him the opportunity to showcase his talents and learn from the best in the NBA.
“I have been truly blessed man. You’ll always hear me say that. I’ve been truly blessed for the opportunities that the Rockets gave me.
With the contract and the minutes that I was given and how I was able to make the most out of those opportunities. And even just training with the guys that I’m able to train with, I train with some of the best guys in the NBA.
That opportunity in itself is good for me and my growth, so it’s truly a blessing to be here.”
Clemons deserves praise for maintaining a positive attitude, as former Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni wasn’t in his corner. Clemons only played an average of 8.8 minutes per game, in spite of the Rockets’ struggles from deep.
The Rockets finished 24th in 3-point percentage in 2019-20, which is one of Clemons’ strengths. Clemons could be in line for a larger role in 2020-21 due to the Rockets’ lack of salary cap space, which would make it more cost effective to give him more playing time than to bring in a more expensive veteran.
Another factor that could determine Clemons’ fate and playing time next season is who the Houston Rockets choose to be their next head coach, which is currently believed to be between Tyronn Lue and Jeff Van Gundy.
But either way, we should expect Clemons to remain positive and grateful, as his comments displayed.