The Houston Rockets’ recent signings of DeMarcus Cousins and Christian Wood are the traditional big men Stephen Silas needs.
Last week was an insightful week for the Houston Rockets with their signings of Christian Wood and DeMarcus Cousins in free agency. The Rockets desperately needed the two big men to bring the franchise’s micro-ball chapter to a close.
For Rockets’ fans, the signings of Wood and Cousins harkens back to the days of Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon. Hopefully, James Harden and Russell Westbrook have taken notice and remain content with extending their stays in Houston.
The narrative of Harden and Westbrook wanting out has centered around the Rockets’ new head coach Stephen Silas. Rockets’ owner Tilman Fertitta had pushed hard to sign former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy, which blatantly ignored his superstar duo’s wishes.
In the end, Fertitta gave in to his superstar’s desires and hired Stephen Silas as the Rockets’ next head coach. Even though Fertitta had wanted Van Gundy, he still honored his superstars’ input but the damage was done.
Although there was excitement in Houston over Silas’ hiring, Westbrook and Harden still wanted out. However, it has been extremely difficult for the Rockets to trade either Westbrook or Harden.
The difficulty in moving Harden has stemmed from finding an appropriate haul in return for the three-time scoring champ, while trading Westbrook has been hard because of his contract.
Rafael Stone, the Rockets general manager, hasn’t been pressured when it comes to trading Harden or Westbrook and both seem likely to remain in Houston for the beginning of the season. Stephen Silas will be working with a talented roster but he still has to convince Harden and Westbrook that Houston is the right place for them.
The signings of Cousins and Wood could be the carrot that keeps Harden and Westbrook content. Wood has mentioned that he played pick-up-ball with Harden this offseason in Los Angeles already and began building a relationship with him.
As an NBA superstar, Harden probably gave a nod of approval over Stone’s signing of Cousins. With Harden’s burgeoning relationship with Wood and his blessings over the Cousins signing it’s likely he’ll be comfortable staying in Houston because of their new big men.
Are Cousins and Wood the Houston Rockets’ new Twin Towers?
The Rockets have not had a frontcourt duo like Cousins and Wood since Olajuwon and Sampson in the late ’80s. The high point of Olajuwon and Sampson’s tenure was when the Rockets were Western Conference champions in 1986.
Over their three full seasons together the duo combined to average 41.9 points, 21.9 rebounds, and 4.8 blocks per game. The one-two punch led Houstonians to refer to Olajuwon and Sampson as the “Twin Towers” because they were both 7-feet-tall.
Now, comparing Wood and Cousins to Olajuwon and Sampson before they’ve played a game together is too soon but ignoring the possibility altogether is pessimistic. While the original Twin Towers were bound to the paint to score, the “Twin Towers 2.0” are a threat from anywhere on the court.
How Silas uses the 6’10 centers on offense will be interesting, as their talent could be overwhelming. A starting-five with Wood and Cousins in it could be treacherous for opposing teams.
Cousins played great alongside current Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis when both played for the New Orleans Pelicans in 2017-18. Cousins, while playing for the Pelicans, averaged 25 points and five assists per game.
Cousins is an excellent passer and can handle the ball like a guard on the perimeter. Don’t be surprised if Silas runs pick-and-rolls where Wood and Cousins are setting picks for each other.
When Cousins was in New Orleans the Pelicans ran pick-and-rolls between him and Davis to great effect. Cousins’ ability to scan the floor and pick the right pass will allow him and Wood to seamlessly inhabit the floor together.
Silas won’t have to worry about spacing with the two on the court either because of their shooting and athletic abilities. Both centers have shot over 33 percent from 3-point range over their careers, which is a necessity for the Rockets’ offense.
Hopefully, Harden and Westbrook won’t mind sacrificing some of their scoring for Cousins and Wood. Putting these four players together could be magnificent for the Rockets this upcoming season and put to rest Harden and Westbrook’s desire to leave.
If Silas can figure things out by the time training camp comes to an end the Rockets could have a potent lineup built around these four. In Wood and Cousins, the Houston Rockets have their “Twin Towers” of the 2020s.