With a handful of new additions to the team, there are some Houston Rockets who may lose playing time in the 2013-14 season. The depth chart is fairly deep at each position, which means players will be competing for minutes night in and night out.
New guys like Reggie Williams, Omri Casspi, Ronnie Brewer and of course, Dwight Howard will take away playing time from some of the returning players from last year. Houston has higher expectations than last season with its new and improved roster, which means some of these guys may lose minutes as a result.
Omer Asik was a formidable starting center last season with Houston. He started all 82 games, averaging 10.1 points and 11.7 boards per game. Asik obviously performed well enough to keep his starting role, but the Rockets struck gold in free agency, moving him down the depth chart.
The arrival of Dwight Howard takes Asik out of the starting lineup. Asik is an above-average center to say the least, but Howard is the best on the planet.
Asik averaged 30 minutes a game last year, which already isn't that much, but it's doomed to drop this upcoming season. Howard averaged 35.8 minutes a game with the Lakers, and that was while he was nursing shoulder and back injuries.
There have been rumors of Howard playing alongside Asik at power forward, according to Brett Pollakoff at NBC Sports. This lineup is definitely worth experimenting with, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to match Howard up against power forwards on defense.
The Rockets coaching staff can play around with it, but in the end, Asik will most likely see a drop in minutes this year.
Garcia was originally just an add-on in a trade when he arrived to Houston. However, Garcia stepped up big as a key contributor during the playoffs, pouring in 10.7 points and 2.8 threes per contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In the playoffs, Garcia averaged 27.3 minutes per game. He was one of the primary defenders against Kevin Durant and one of the few veterans with experience. In the regular season, he only averaged 17.7 minutes a game, which is more likely what he will see again once this season begins.
The Rockets brought in a few more wing players to add to the rotation, such as Brewer, Williams and Casspi. All of these guys will be competing for minutes at the 2 and 3 positions, which will cut into Garcia's playing time for sure.
Garcia will still have an impact on the court and in the locker room, regardless of his minutes, but he will definitely see a decline in playing time.
It's hard to say that someone will lose minutes when they only averaged 5.4 per game in the first place. Brooks did not see the floor all that much last year when he signed on with Houston, and it doesn't look like that's about to change.
Brooks played 11.2 minutes per playoff game against OKC due to a Jeremy Lin chest injury, but once this season starts, Brooks' minutes will go back down to very few per game, if any. The depth chart is simply too deep.
Lin and Patrick Beverley will take up the large majority of the minutes at point guard. Also, the Rockets spent their one and only draft pick on another point guard, Isaiah Canaan out of Murray State. Canaan will probably start the year in the D-League, and depending on how well he performs, he could be on the Rockets bench by midseason.
Brooks, once the starting point guard on this team a few years ago, now finds himself all the way near the end of the bench. It could be a long season for him watching from the sideline.
Power Forward to Be Named Later
The Rockets starting lineup is set in stone except for power forward, which is still up for grabs. The competition is between Greg Smith, Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas.
Smith and Motiejunas each got some starting time last season, and even Jones started to earn more minutes by the end of the year. One of these guys will win the job in training camp, but the power forward spot could be shuffling all season long, especially if the Rockets choose to experiment with Dwight Howard there.
There are a lot of potential guys for one slot and only so many minutes that can be allocated. One of these guys is going to be left behind. How they all perform will determine who will draw the short straw.