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The Houston Rockets have three players who’re guaranteed to start on opening night: James Harden, Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons. The remaining two positions—point guard and power forward—are up for grabs.
In one year, Houston’s expectations for the season have gone from “make the playoffs” to “win a championship.” But one question remains: Who is their power forward? The frontrunners to fill the role are uninspiring: Omer Asik—which would create serious questions about his on-court synergy with Howard—Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas and Greg Smith.
Jones is 21 years old, Smith is 22, and Motiejunas will soon turn 23. Given this team’s suddenly high expectations, the limited experience these three share is a concern and it’ll be interesting to see if one of them can prove their worth in the starting lineup beside a couple proven stars.
Motiejunas is a seven-footer, but, unlike Asik, he can spread the floor, which possibly puts him ahead of the other two on the depth chart. Smith, meanwhile, is easily the biggest long shot of the group, but he does have the requisite size (6'10", 250) and athleticism to at least deserve a look.
Houston’s other positional battle might be the league’s least predictable. Someone needs to start at point guard, and that someone will either be Jeremy Lin or Patrick Beverley. Neither option is perfect or ideal.
Lin struggled with his outside shot, going 33.9 percent on three-pointers. In a smaller sample size, Beverley shot 37.5 percent. Beverley is the better defender, while both can penetrate, get to the rim and force the defense to collapse. But given the team’s structure and probable offensive philosophy, the deciding factor will be who can space the floor better.
It’s definitely something to keep an eye on.