The new-look Houston Rockets have gotten off to a strong start in the 2023-24 preseason. Granted, we can only take away so much from the preseason but their style of play has been significantly better than what we've seen in past years.
The Rockets have shown great promise on the defensive end, and although that was to be expected, due to the hire of Ime Udoka, who is a defensive mind, it can't be overstated how good they've been on that end of the floor. In fact, Rockets center Alperen Sengun has even been active on defense, and that hasn't been his calling up to this point in his career.
The Rockets have easily been the better team in both of their preseason matches, and especially in Thursday's duel against the New Orleans Pelicans.
These next two games will be different though, as the Rockets face the San Antonio Spurs and Victor Wembanyama, who has been universally considered the best prospect to enter the league since LeBron James. Hell, James has said so himself.
"I’ve never seen, no one’s ever seen anyone as tall as he is, but it’s fluid and as graceful as on the floor...His ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot step-back jumpers on the post, step-back 3s, catch-and-shoot 3s, block shots. He’s for sure a generational talent."
How the Rockets will defend Victor Wembanyama
After two preseason games, Wembanyama has already donned several breath-taking moves. His highlights display a force of nature, as his size and creativity have been too much for defenders, and his fluidity is a bit unprecedented for someone standing 7-foot-4.
The Rockets will have their hands full, that's for sure.
Which leads to the question of who they'll use as the primary defender.
Many have suggested Jabari Smith Jr., due to his frame and athleticism. Smith stands 6-foot-11, so that's an understandable choice.
However, the Rockets have a better option on the roster: Dillon Brooks.
Hell, the Rockets brought him here for this sole reason. If he can't clamp the opposing team's biggest scoring threat, why sign him to a $90 million deal?
Brooks is a pest on the defensive end and can get under Wemby, due to his aggressive nature as a defender. And we know Brooks is willing to get over-physical with him to prove a point. Granted, Brooks might get ejected, but he won't mind it.
He teeters the line and forces the officials to toss him. If they don't, he's successfully made a statement to his opponent.
Brooks' strength would pose to be a problem for Wembanyama, who has a slender frame and won't be able to match the physicality and strength of Brooks.
Granted, this may very well not be enough, as Wemby could potentially be unguardable. But for the Rockets, this would easily be the best defensive matchup.