Initial 2013 Houston Rockets Post-NBA Draft Depth Chart Projections
The Houston Rockets' roster has undergone a makeover even before free agency has officially begun.
The 2013 NBA draft saw the team bring in Isaiah Canaan, and Thomas Robinson has been traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in a last-ditch effort to clear the necessary cap space to make a run at some of the offseason's biggest free agents.
Kostas Papanikolaou and Marko Todorovic (along with two draft picks) were acquired by Houston in exchange for Robinson, though the Rockets only have the rights to each player. They won't have an impact on the team next season.
Free agency figures to see the depth chart change even more. Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin are reportedly available, and that's likely because the team is planning its all-out pursuit of Dwight Howard. He's not a Rocket just yet, though, so he won't be included in this current depth chart.
The same goes for every other unrestricted free agent. Until the ink dries, those players will not be considered Houston Rockets.
For now, the depth chart looks a little something like this.
Jeremy Lin is the team's starting point guard—right now, at least. If the season were to start today, head coach Kevin McHale would would entrust Lin with facilitating duties.
Lin was inconsistent last season. He struggled at times with his jumper and ball security, though he showed flashes of brilliance throughout the year. There's no doubting the fact that Lin is a starting point guard in this league, even if his fit in Houston is questionable.
Patrick Beverley will be the first point guard off the bench for McHale and could see a significant spike in playing time after the way he finished off last season.
Playing for the injured Lin against Oklahoma City in the playoffs, Beverley showed the defensive skill and aggressive that the Rockets lack in the starting-five. Don't be surprised if Beverley starts a few games here and there ahead of Lin.
Beverley needs to work on his scoring ability and jump-shooting, but he is a perfect second-fiddle to James Harden. Harden commands the ball, and Beverley is in no position to hold it for long periods of time. Lin, on the other hand, is at the top of his game when the ball is in his hands.
The newest Rocket, Isaiah Canaan, will be the third point guard for McHale. The rookie has a ton of potential as a pure scorer, but will likely play a role similar to that of Aaron Brooks from last season.
In less than 10 minutes per game, Canaan will have to be disciplined and not play outside himself in an effort to impress the coaching staff. Canaan's time will come in Houston, but it probably won't be next season.
Surprise, surprise. James Harden will be the starting shooting guard and team leader in 2013-14.
Not surprised? Well, I honestly didn't expect you to be.
Harden emerged last season as a top player in the NBA and it was his presence that propelled the Rockets to the playoffs out of the Western Conference. With a season under his belt in Houston, Harden and the coaching staff may look to refine the way he's used—especially if other top names are brought in via free agency.
Regardless, Harden will likely be the team's leading scorer and go-to guy in clutch situations.
While he may not be used very often, James Anderson will be Harden's backup. He's currently on a non-guaranteed contract for next season, but he played well enough off the bench that the Rockets should have no worries about his future play.
Anderson should only be asked to play around 10 or so minutes per game, as Harden will be on the court for 35-plus minutes each night. When on the court, expect Anderson to shoot a couple of jumpers and play solid defense.
He's a good player to have behind a star like Harden.
There really isn't much depth outside of Anderson, but the Rockets could choose to use either Jeremy Lin or Patrick Beverley at shooting guard, depending on who is on the court.
Chandler Parsons improved upon his rookie season in 2012-13, and there's plenty of reason to believe that he'll improve yet again. He's still learning to become more physical of a player, while his below-average athleticism is starting to become less and less of a reason for people to doubt him.
Parsons can score and has the ability to take over games with his jumper. He also became quite good at knocking down open threes last season, as James Harden and Jeremy Lin certainly loved to feed him the ball when open on the perimeter.
If Parsons does in fact improve again, then the rest of the Western Conference is in for a rude awakening.
With both Francisco Garcia and Carlos Delfino being waived by the club, Parsons is currently without any depth behind him.
There are a few players that general manager Daryl Morey could pursue to fill the void. Mike Dunleavy, Dorell Wright and Kyle Korver are all free agents, and each of them have similar makeups to that of Garcia and Delfino.
There's almost no question that a three-point shooter will be sought after for this role. It's just a matter of which player Morey chooses to target.
This is currently the lone position on the roster that has a big question mark next to it. The trade of Thomas Robinson pretty much ensures that.
If the season started today, then Donatas Motiejunas would likely start at the 4. He showed flashes of potential at times last season, though didn't show the consistency that Houston would have liked from the power forward position.
At 7'0", Motiejunas can be a matchup problem at times for opposing defenders. He has the ability to step back and hit a three, though he didn't have much success in that department last season (28.9 percent).
Power forward could be a revolving door of sorts for the Rockets in 2013-14.
Terrence Jones will be breathing down the neck of Motiejunas all season long for playing time. He, too, showed flashes of potential during his rookie season, though a long stint in the D-League prevented him from cracking Kevin McHale's rotation earlier.
Jones is extremely athletic and rebounds very well for a bit of an undersized power forward. He'll need to put weight on (he currently weighs around 250 pounds) to be considered a more viable option to start.
Motiejunas doesn't have the upside of Jones, so Jones could end up starting sooner rather than later.
Royce White, the Rockets' resident headache, is still on the roster—even if his playing status with the team remains uncertain. Don't expect him to make any sort of contribution next season.
Greg Smith will also see some time at power forward. Seeing as he'll be a regular member of the rotation at center, though, he won't see an exorbitant amount of time at the 4.
For now, Omer Asik remains the team's starting center. He progressed well in his first season with the Rockets and has the opportunity to improve yet again in 2013-14—for whatever team he's playing for.
At this point, it seems inevitable that Houston will eventually sign Dwight Howard to a max contract. They've cleared the cap space and made Asik available, so even they seem fairly confident (okay, extremely confident) that D12 will be a Rocket.
Asik would be the center if the season started today, though, and there really aren't that many centers that play a more well-rounded game than he does. Any team that wants to acquire him will have to offer up a pretty penny.
Then again, he could remain with the team as a reserve center or power forward if Howard signs.
Greg Smith will be the reserve for Asik (or Howard) next season and will look to build off what wasn't a terrible rookie year.
Sure, he didn't play great in the playoffs and seemed lost at times during the season, but his hot streaks put amongst some of the better rookies in the game. He does have a pretty refined post game for a young big man, though, and the Rockets will look to utilize that when he's on the court.
If only he could be more consistent.
Big man Tim Olbrecht wasn't used much last season. He didn't join the team until well into the second-half and was really brought aboard as depth in the first place.
He could steal some playing time away from Smith when Smith comes off the bench as a power forward, but it should be a rare occasion to see both Asik and Motiejunas off the court at the same time.
Ohlbrecht will be one of the last guys off the bench for Kevin McHale during the upcoming season.