Garrison Mathews Season in Review
Pinpointing where Mathews needs to improve is both easy and unnecessary. Would it be great if he improved at self-creation, isolation defense, and playmaking? Yes, but his physical limitations make that unlikely, and it could easily take away from what he’s already good at.
The only area where he could reasonably stand to improve is utilizing his shooting gravity to open passing and driving lanes for himself. This past season, there were numerous instances when he would be three feet beyond the arc and defenders were flying out on him as soon as he touched the ball. Most times he let it fly as quickly as he caught it, but a little ball fake would have given the Rockets a momentary four on five. A few more of these a game could see his offensive impact improve significantly, without sacrificing what he already does well.
Garrison Mathews set career highs in games played, minutes played, and minutes per game. Saying he broke out would be disingenuous. Mathews has always paired excellent volume and efficiency from distance with stunning free throw rates and an impressive ability to draw offensive fouls. The Rockets were just the first team to give him an expanded role, and he rewarded them handsomely.
His 2021-22 season was excellent and he should remain a key figure in the Rockets' rebuild. With Eric Gordon likely to depart within a season, he’ll be the Rockets' go-to floor spacer for the foreseeable future. While there isn’t much hope for a breakout due to his lack of physical gifts, he could always put together a 40% or better season from distance as more defensive attention drifts towards Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and whomever the Rockets select this season in the top-five.
Mathews was a fantastic pickup and represents another win on the margins for the Rockets’ front office. He’s locked up throughout his prime, and if he has an unconscious shooting season he could be one of the Rockets' most valuable offensive contributors. The Celtics waived him in October of 2021. A decision, in hindsight, they should regret. But the Celtics' loss, was the Rockets' gain. Long live the legend of “Garry Bird.”