The 2023-24 Houston Rockets are a much better team than they've been in recent memory. The Rockets' defense has been ferocious, which was to be expected when they hired Ime Udoka, who is known for his prioritization on that end of the floor.
The Rockets rank fourth in defensive efficiency this season, in part because they have three legitimate defenders at the wing position in Tari Eason, Dillon Brooks, and Jae'Sean Tate. We've seen some of the best wings in the league struggle to score on the Rockets.
For example, LA Clippers superstar forward Paul George went 8-of-22 in Friday's game against the Rockets. Against the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James was held in check by Dillon Brooks, to the tune of 2-of-6 and three turnovers when Brooks was the primary defender, which led to a 128-94 baptism by the Rockets.
The Rockets went from having the 29th-ranked defense in 2022-23 to having one of the best defenses in the league overnight. The Rockets rank better defensively than any season of the James Harden era.
The Rockets' rim protection issues could have a simple solution.
And they're doing it without a rim-protecting big man on the roster, which is even more impressive. The Rockets tried to eliminate this deficit by going after Brook Lopez but were left hanging at the altar and were unable to bounce back, which resulted in them signing Jeff Green and Jock Landale.
Landale has looked quite awful and Green has never been known for his defense (although he's played well on the other end). The Rockets will need to eventually nab a defensive-minded big man and there are many options in free-agency.
Let's take a look at five potential options for the Rockets.