3 immediate priorities for new Rockets GM Rafael Stone

Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook James Harden (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook James Harden (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Nerlens Noel #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

3. Add shooters and a center

The 2019-20 version of the Rockets revealed a team that lacked depth, which isn’t exactly the formula for winning a title. For example, the Los Angeles Lakers, who were the 2019-20 NBA champions, received contributions from Markieff Morris,  Dwight Howard, Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, in addition to their superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The Rockets’ roster construction was a polar opposite of the Lakers, as they were top-heavy, to put it politely. James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Eric Gordon accounted for 64.4 percent of the Rockets’ scoring production during the regular season. The Rockets also struggled to score when teams double-teamed Harden during the playoffs, which further illustrates the need for depth.

The Rockets will likely need to replace Austin Rivers, as he has a player’s option that he is almost certain to exercise. In addition, the Rockets will need to find quality shooters, much like they did last season when they signed Ben McLemore, who had a resurgent year, as he finished 13th in threes, while shooting 40 percent from deep.

In spite of McLemore’s excellence from deep, the Rockets finished 24th in 3-point percentage, making just 34.5 percent of their threes, which was the lowest percentage they made during the Harden era. The Rockets will also need to find a center, which should prove to be the first position they fill in free agency.

Former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey pursued then Oklahoma City Thunder center Nerlens Noel at the trade deadline and he’s a free agent, who could make for a quality big man that could be added on the veterans-minimum. If not Noel, the Rockets would also be wise to give Isaiah Hartenstein another look, as he had big performances for the team during the 2019-20 season and is still available in free agency.

The Rockets could also opt for pricier options such as Aron Baynes or Dwight Howard, who could also provide value. It’s also been reported that the Rockets are interested in acquiring Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, and although there are trades that could land Embiid in the Space City, we shouldn’t expect such a deal to take place.

Regardless of which direction Rafael Stone’s front office chooses, they’ll need to add shooters and a big man.

Next: No. 2