Houston Rockets P.J. Tucker replacement #1: D.J. Wilson
While riding the pine so much would be a concern for most young players, Wilson has been backing up Giannis Antetokounmpo, the back-to-back MVP, which means his lack of playing time is a product of circumstances and less a referendum on his talent.
Until this season, Wilson hadn’t shown much as a 3-point shooter but in 2020-21 he has converted 37.5-percent of his threes and paired that with significant growth in his free throw shooting. One of the best indicators for a player’s long-term 3-point shooting is their free-throw shooting and Wilson has shown steady year-to-year improvement in that department.
Wilson has gone from a 50-percent free-throw shooter as a rookie to converting 80-percent this season, although on only five attempts. The more telling growth is that Wilson’s free throw shooting grew to 55.3-percent in year two and then 61.1-percent in year three.
Even if Wilson isn’t an 80-percent shooter from the stripe it looks like his shooting touch has improved and could portend a credible 3-point stroke in the future. Although his 3-point shooting has been poor over his career, his shooting from the corners has been markedly better.
Over the course of his career, Wilson has hit 40-percent of his corner threes and over the past two seasons he has clocked in at 53.3-percent, although in a limited number of attempts. While Wilson might be able to handle the floor spacing duties that Tucker provided his defensive versatility is not quite as robust.
Wilson has spent most of his career as a power forward or center and it remains to be seen if he can slow down players on the perimeter. However, with Jae’Sean Tate in town, the Rockets don’t need a stretch forward that can be a multi-positional defender as much as they need a floor spacer.
In the last year of his rookie deal, the Rockets need to give Wilson a run to see if he’s someone worth keeping around. Tucker’s minutes are available and Wilson should be able to provide the Rockets with enough shooting to keep the offense humming as they look to build for the future.