2021 Houston Rockets Depth Chart
|Point Guard||John Wall||1||Kevin Porter Jr.||3||D.J. Augustin||14|
|Shooting Guard||Eric Gordon||10||Sterling Brown||0||Avery Bradley||9|
|Small Forward||Jae'Sean Tate||8||KJ Martin||6|
|Power Forward||Kelly Olynyk||41||Danuel House||4|
|Center||Christian Wood||35||Justin Patton||26|
Despite going 65-17 last season, and finishing first place in the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets season was far from a success in their eyes as they were eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. The Rockets had a 3-2 series lead and were one half away from eliminating the Warriors, but ultimately were unable to overcome injuries to Chris Paul and Luc Mbah a Moute to close out the series. They had a lot of question marks heading into the offseason with Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute all entering free agency, and unfortunately for them, they were only able to retain Capela when the dust settled. They did sign former All-Star Carmelo Anthony, along with James Ennis and Michael Carter-Williams, through free agency and then traded for the duo of Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss in late August. They sent away Ryan Anderson in that deal, along with the 46th pick De’Anthony Melton, to acquire Knight and Chriss. Even with their losses, Houston is primed to be one of the best teams in the NBA once again this season with James Harden at the helm.
Chris Paul returns from an injury-plagued season to help lead the Houston Rockets at the point guard position. Paul was excellent last season, averaging 18.6 points and 7.9 assists, but was only able to appear in 58 games. It didn’t take long for Paul to learn how to play with All-Star James Harden and head coach Mike D’Antoni will continue to spend time working the offense around those two. Newly acquired Brandon Knight will serve as the team’s primary backup behind Paul but with the way Mike D’Antoni will stagger the offense, Knight will spend most of his time alongside James Harden who will be the true “point guard” when Paul is off the floor. Having Knight, along with Michael Carter-Williams, behind Paul will at least give the Rockets some playmakers that can take pressure off Harden later on in the season. All-Star James Harden returns for his ninth season and leads a very deep group of shooting guards for the Rockets. Harden averaged a career-high 30.4 points per game last season, along with 8.8 assists, but fell short in the playoffs once again last season as fatigue became an issue for him. Alongside Harden, veteran sixth-man Eric Gordon will spend plenty of time as the shooting guard when Harden slides over to the point guard spot. Gordon did an excellent job filling in when Paul went down last season and started 30 games for the Rockets. He averaged 18 points per game and shot 35.9 percent from the floor in 31.2 minutes per game. Bruno Caboclo came over to Houston in the offseason and will fight Gerald Green for minutes behind Eric Gordon, with Green being the odds-on favorite.
The forward positions get a little bit tricky as James Ennis was projected to be the starter before Carmelo Anthony came to town but how Mike D’Antoni elects to distribute minutes will be intriguing to see. Ennis is a much better on-ball defender, something that Houston will need without Ariza and Mbah a Moute, but Anthony is still a better scorer than Ennis at this point in his career. If Anthony starts at small forward, the logical move, the Ennis will come off the bench and becomes an excellent wing option for them when they play small ball lineups. Alongside Anthony, P.J. Tucker projects to be the team’s starting power forward this season, along with their small ball center and provides the team with a defensive anchor that can stretch the floor and hit from beyond-the-arc. Newly acquired Marquese Chriss will play behind Tucker, with Anthony spending time as the backup power forward as well, and even James Harden will spend time at the position on defense this season.
With Clint Capela returning for the Rockets this season, Houston has a stabilizing rim protector in the paint. Capela took a huge leap forward last season when he averaged 13.9 points and 10.8 rebounds per game but his ability to protect the rim and operate in the pick-and-roll is more valuable to the Rockets than how many points per game he scores. With their ability to play small, and having someone of P.J. Tucker’s size in the paint, the Rockets are extremely flexible and deep at the center position. Tucker spent time at center last season which helps when Capela is off the floor but the team also has veteran Nene Hilario that can spend time at the position.