The Houston Rockets have been in the headlines a lot as of late, but eventually, the media is going to be clamoring for less last-season gossip and more contemporary basketball-related scuttle-butt. Namely, who is going to be the dependable option going forward (no pun intended) at power forward?
While the acquisition of Dwight Howard allows Houston to explore various lineup looks, it doesn't necessarily give them a dependable option going forward. While Daryl Morey claims key big man Omer Asik isn't going anywhere (per the Houston Chronicle), at some point, a legitimate, true power forward is going to have to find his way at that spot.
Twin tower pairings can work a la the Memphis Grizzlies, but starting two true centers on the floor has its flaws as well as drawbacks. More mobile 4s can blow by slower centers, and some stretch pivots can give lead-footed 5s headaches from afar on the perimeter. On the plus side, the defensive boards can be locked down tight with bigger personnel, and more length typically leads to extra possessions on the offensive end.
While Omer Asik is only one possible look, Houston does have a few options at power forward, but at some point, they'll need to decide on a definitive starter at that position.
So what options do they have at their disposal?
Towards the latter end of last season, Greg Smith appeared to be their dependable guy at power forward. He got some minutes in the postseason, and while his production was pretty bad, admittedly, he's still a bit of a work in progress.
Considering his raw skill set, there's no need to completely shred him apart from a critical standpoint. Smith is just 22 years of age, and as he familiarizes himself with the next level, he will make strides.
Granted, Smith isn't going to make a quantum leap into a legitimate superstar. At best, his ceiling is dependable rotational player, but if the fans in H-Town are expecting this kid to develop into some kind of monster, don't count on it.
Kidding aside, Houston fans aren't stupid—they know that isn't going to happen anytime soon, and know the the Rockets are just as perplexed concerning the 4 spot as anyone else.
While Smith isn't great by any stretch, he's probably Houston's best option as far as his developmental progress goes.
Motiejunas is still a work in progress, and he's still too raw to be dependable starter. Honestly, there isn't much more that need be said about him.
Well, OK, we can go into a little more detail.
Motiejunas is the classic example of a European stiff. He has size and some finesse, but he lacks the muscle and power to really bang in the paint. He's 222 pounds, but he's a 7-footer who lacks a tremendous inside game.
While European prospects like Motiejunas can be service in spurts off the bench, there's no way the Rockets would survive with him as a starter alongside Dwight Howard.
He has length and height, but at this level it takes more than that to succeed.
Expect Motiejunas to stick to being the odd man out in the Rockets rotation with the rising success of Terrence Jones.
Physically, Jones might as well be a clone of Greg Smith.
Both Jones and Smith are approximately 250 pounds and around 6'9"-6'10", so skills aside, both are extremely similar.
Jones and Smith are climbing up the same ladder, but Smith got a head start as far as climbing goes. Jones looked impressive in Summer League action according to several observers (per Houston Chronicle), and if he can keep up the impressive play, it might help him ascend the proverbial ladder a bit quicker.
While his All-First Team Summer League accomplishment is certainly a great confidence booster for a young player like Jones, it's going to take more than a couple nifty Summer League performances to really crack that rotation going forward.
Not to take anything away from Jones' 16 points, 7 boards, nearly 3 assists, with a block per game in several Summer League outings, but the Houston coaching staff is likely going to be a hard sell.
He will get his chance at some point, but it might still be a little early for Jones long term.
Yes, believe it or not, Kenyon Martin is still a serviceable option, and he's still available on the free agent market. At his 35 years of age, Kenyon might settle for chump change, (like six figures is chump change) and while he's still serviceable, better yet you get a no-nonsense tough guy to shove people on the court and mentor the younger guys.
James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, Dwight Howard—all are pretty good players, but this is undoubtedly one of the least intimidating rosters in the NBA. They need an injection of veteran grit, and Kenyon Martin gives them that. He's still fairly athletic, and a pairing of him and Dwight would be nasty on the offensive glass.
There's really no risk with signing a Kenyon Martin—short-term deal, instant production, instant presence in the locker room, it's hard to really overthink it.
If you're the Rockets, who do you want starting at power forward?
Longterm, he doesn't fix everything, but he certainly works as a spark plug off the bench.