Rockets' reported starting lineup leaves fans in disbelief

2022 NBA Finals - Game Two
2022 NBA Finals - Game Two / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

The Houston Rockets have had quite an active offseason, which was necessary for a team hoping to ascend into the tier of contenders in the crowded Western Conference. The Rockets have dubbed the next step in the franchise’s rebuild as “phase two”, and for a team that’s won just 25 percent of their games over the last three seasons, a major overhaul was going to have to take place to accomplish that goal.

The Rockets landed Ime Udoka -one of the hottest coaching names on the market- and had a wildly successful showing in the NBA Draft, walking away with two projected top-five players in Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore with two top-20 picks. Their free agency showing drew mixed reviews, because they partially accomplished their goal, walking away with two of their top targets in Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks (the Brook Lopez fiasco was quite unfortunate for GM Rafael Stone).

The Rockets now have around $12-15 million left in cap room but all signs point to the franchise being done with splash moves. Now the focus is on the starting lineup, which many expected to be some iteration of VanVleet, Jalen Green, Brooks, Jabari Smith Jr., and Alperen Sengun. This lineup was also theorized by Rockets beat writer Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Rockets' reported starting lineup leaves fans in disbelief

Those who held this belief will be in for a surprise, according to Yahoo Sports insider Jake Fischer, who suggested the Rockets’ starting lineup will look considerably different on Fischer’s No Cap Room podcast.

“I do think they have a vision right now where Fred starts with Jalen and KPJ on the wings and have a three-guard lineup, that’s my read on it. Maybe Dillon Brooks is the four with Jock Landale at center.”

This is quite surprising, as Porter Jr. has been expected to be a Sixth Man, since his point guard days are clearly over. And since Smith Jr. was selected with a top-three draft pick just one year ago, seeing him not start would be a head-scratcher (although Udoka has reiterated that no minutes or starting spots are guaranteed).

Landale starting over Sengun would be quite unfortunate because the franchise has already opted to start significantly less talented players over him (ahem Bruno Fernando, who is no longer on the roster).

Above all else, the Rockets would be quite undersized, as Brooks is only 6’6, and he’d be starting at power forward in this scenario.

Ditto for the small forward position, as Porter Jr. is listed at 6’4. And we already know VanVleet is a smaller guard, standing at just six feet. The good thing is that Fischer doesn't determine the starting lineup nor does he know emphatically.

In fact, he even says "I think" and emphasizes that this is simply his read. And even if this does indeed hold true, the starting lineup can always change. So there's not quite any reason to lose sleep. Yet.

It's only July. But the initial disbelief and dismay is well-warranted, I must admit.