Predicting What Houston Rockets' Rotation Will Look Like Next NBA Season
Who’s going to be on the floor for the Houston Rockets next year?
The Rockets were one of the most talented teams to miss the postseason this year. Injuries played a part in the Rockets landing in the lottery. With a few key guys healthy again, Houston has to make only a few relatively minor adjustments.
There will be some players not coming back, and there will be some new faces playing big minutes.
Reserve: Patrick Patterson
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Patrick Patterson is going to emerge as a rotation player capable of becoming dangerous in his third season.
The 6’9” Kentucky product is versatile enough to give Kevin McHale some flexibility in the lineup.
Patterson will average double-figure scoring for the first time in his career.
If he finds himself playing 25-30 minutes a game this year, he’ll be an 11 points, seven rebounds kind of guy every night for Houston.
Reserve: Tony Wroten
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The Rockets have some flexibility in the draft. They’ve got the No. 14 and No. 16 pick.
They also have a void at backup point guard, as Goran Dragic likely won’t be with the team next year.
The problem is there aren’t any point guards likely to be left on the table that are worthy of being picked so high. Guys like Damian Lillard and Kendall Marshall will be gone. The Rockets will work something out with a team like the Boston Celtics—who own the No. 21 and 22 picks—to swap selections.
That will give Houston University of Washington product Tony Wroten and potentially a future second-round pick or cash.
Wroten will be a great second-unit point guard. He can score and distribute the ball efficiently. He’ll give a spark immediately as a rookie coming off the bench.
Sixth Man: Courtney Lee
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Houston fans know they’ll get offensive production from Courtney Lee when he enters the game.
Lee can score and he can do it consistently.
He will also be the second unit’s best perimeter defender. He’ll be the one taking on the task of shutting down guys like Manu Ginobili and James Harden.
Point Guard: Kyle Lowry
After missing 19 games with injury this season, Kyle Lowry will return in full force next season.
Lowry did not like splitting time with Goran Dragic. That will no longer be an issue because Dragic is expected to command a high-dollar contract elsewhere this offseason.
That gives Lowry more freedom and a longer leash this year. Without having to keep peeking over his shoulder, he’ll be able to better focus on scoring and distributing.
Plan on Lowry improving his 14.3 points and 6.6 assists per game from this season.
Shooting Guard: Kevin Martin
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Losing Kevin Martin for 26 games was the biggest downfall for Houston this season.
A healthy Martin will really improve the team next season.
Martin is easily the team’s best perimeter player. At full strength, it’s easy to see him returning to his 23 points per game from two seasons ago.
At age 29, Martin is near the end of his prime. He still has plenty of production left in him for the upcoming season, but Martin and his $13 million contract may not be back in Houston the following season.
Small Forward: Chandler Parsons
Chandler Parsons didn’t put up overwhelming statistics as a rookie. As a sophomore, expect Parsons to be closer to sensational than slumping.
He won’t have to split time with Chase Budinger, who will become a free agent when the Rockets decline his option.
The departure of Budinger lessens the logjam at small forward. That will lead to increased minutes for Parsons, who played 28 minutes a game this season.
He will seize the opportunity and improve his stats across the board.
Power Forward: Luis Scola
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At 32, Luis Scola is starting his career descent.
He will need to play reduced minutes, especially considering the wear and tear put on his body by his banging style.
That will limit his production, but a declining Scola is still effective. He’ll figure out a way to score 14 or 15 points and grab six or seven rebounds a night.
In the meantime, he’ll go toe-to-toe with the other team’s bigs all night long, trading blow for blow.
As the season takes its toll on Scola, however, he might be replaced in the starting lineup by Patrick Patterson.
Center: Meyers Leonard
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Throwing a rookie into the starting center spot is dangerous, but it’s about the only option the Rockets have got.
They likely won’t want to match other bidders on an aging Marcus Camby. With Samuel Dalembert’s return a question mark as well, turning toward the future is the best path Houston can take.
Meyers Leonard will take his lumps early on, but has a promising skill set.
He’s a legit seven-footer with the mass to hold his own against other NBA centers. Leonard’s game is throwback. He plays back to the basket, works hard to get position, and he can step out to make a mid-range J if he needs to.