The NBA game has evolved into a movement-oriented, push-and-pop perimeter game with scrambling defenses.
That’s OK with Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni and his general manager, Daryl Morey. For a year now they have been piecing together a quicker team with versatility and shooting ability.
The Russell Westbrook trade last summer reflected that. And so do the trades the Rockets made last week.
It’s this thing called small ball, and if you haven’t been to their games before, you’ll want to buy tickets to Houston Rockets games now.
Fasten your seatbelts, folks. It’s the second half of the season, and we’re making a push for the playoffs unlike any in the past.
Let’s look at the personnel changes since last week’s trades:
Clint Capela – the loveable guy who was the best big man the Rockets had.
Nene – the 37-year-old backup to Capela, whose playing time has declined over the years.
Gerald Green – the 6-6 wingman who was injured in October, but who could be of help to someone come playoff time.
The Rockets will miss the more traditional big man in the lineup. Capela and Nene brought a lot of stopping power underneath, and Capela was having his best rebounding season yet.
If Green helps a team in April or May, that could prove to be a miss, too.
Robert Covington – a 6-7 swing man who can contribute double figures in
scoring and play defense. He also shot around 38 percent from 3-point range for Philly and Minnesota this season.
Bruno Caboclo – a 6-9 guy who has a 7-7 wingspan, so he can do some things underneath. He averaged 8.2 rebounds with the Memphis Grizzlies this year and had a good record on the boards before that. But he’ll also shoot 3s. He shot 43 percent from behind the line when he was in the G League.
There are other possibles in the mix for the future. Getting Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson appears to be dead, since Thompson apparently wants to stay on with the Cavs.
But Charlotte’s Marvin Williams or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Minnesota’s Evan Turner, Miami’s Solomon Hill and Detroit’s John Henson are also on the board as possible bargains on the Rockets’ shopping list.
What are we leading up to here? A team that moves on offense, confuses opponents on defense, and fires up the 3-pointer with little to no hesitation (see Golden State Warriors).
It should be fun to watch.
The Rockets are now hovering around fourth place in the tough Western Conference, with the potential for doing much more damage when their new players get acclimated to the team and its strategy.
Tickets to the Toyota Center will be tougher to come by as this revamped team shows its wares. So pick your dates (Clippers visit on March 5) and purchase tickets to Rockets games ASAP.