Houston Rockets: reason #3 letting Sterling Brown go was a mistake: Defense
No one is going to confuse Sterling Brown for peak Tony “First-Team All-Defense!” Allen. However, that doesn’t mean he is not an asset on the defensive side of the ball.
Last season, of players who played in 30 or more games, the only Rockets with a better defensive box plus/minus were David Nwaba, Jae’Sean Tate, and P.J. Tucker. For a team that’s counting on Christian Wood, Daniel Theis, Usman Garuba, and Alperun Sengun to defend the paint, perimeter defense is going to be their rim protection.
There is another added benefit of having a strong perimeter defense. It will allow Sengun a longer defensive leash and will make Garuba’s transition to the NBA a lot easier. The NBA can be overwhelming for rookies, and Brown would have helped simplify their roles on defense.
Brown is not a transformative defensive player but he is capable of guarding multiple positions. When he was on the court, the Rockets' defensive rating was 113.4 points per 100 possessions, compared to 116.8 points when he sat.
The Rockets don’t care how good their defense is this season. They are a rebuilding team and racking up wins is a tertiary concern. However, Brown would have made this team better on the defensive end.