3. Morey proved that small ball isn’t a long-term solution
Although the small ball strategy has been employed before the Houston Rockets rolled it out during the 2019-20 season, it had never been used to the extreme that Rockets GM Daryl Morey drew it up. Take the Golden State Warriors superteams, for example.
Although they primarily used Draymond Green at the five during their closing lineups, they had players like JaVale McGee, Kevon Looney, DeMarcus Cousins, and Marreese Speights over the years, who they could play at the center position when needed. The Rockets played P.J. Tucker full-time at center, which certainly took a toll on him physically, and especially with the 3-and-D specialist having played a career-high in minutes during the 2019-20 season.
The Rockets were essentially dominated on the glass on a nightly basis, and proved to be unable to contend with the size of the Los Angeles Lakers during the Western Conference Semifinals. But not only that, James Harden benefited from having a lob threat in past years, which made it even more difficult for defenses to gameplan for him. Without that threat, it became easier for contain Harden and to send multiple defenders at Harden, and especially when he drives to the basket.
With the Rockets having been provided proof of the importance of having size, we shouldn’t expect them to employ a similar approach, as it pertains to their roster construction.
Newly promoted general manager Rafael Stone surely took notice of the Rockets’ struggles without a center and will likely make it a focus to add a big man, or several big men, which would be a major positive for the Rockets.
Next: No. 2