Heading into training camp, the Houston Rockets have 19 players under contract, but only 12 players can make the team, which means a lot of these guys are on the bubble.
Many returning players are guaranteed to make the team, but there is a large handful of new players that will have to fight for the final spots. The Rockets added nine players through free agency and the draft, and lost only five.
It seems as if the Rockets have too much talent to fit on one roster. Houston has 15 players who were on an active 12-man roster somewhere in the league at any point last season (you can find a full list of them here). This means that at least three players will be demoted in the beginning of the 2013-14 season.
There are four different categories for players on the bubble: the ones who will barely make the team, the ones who will be on the inactive list, the ones who will play down in the D-League and the ones who will get cut.
The Last Ones In
These are the players that will earn those precious few spots at the end of the bench. The competition is tough, and training camp will help the coaching staff determine which players are most deserving. The following players are not guaranteed to make the team, but they should be able to crack their way in.
Brewer signed with the Rockets late in the summer. After getting traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Brewer only averaged 0.9 points and 2.9 rebounds in just over 10 minutes per game.
Brewer was pretty much a non-factor in the Thunder's rotation last season, which is why he's on the bubble now for the Rockets.
However, Brewer is a talented defender on the perimeter, which is a big need for the Rockets. Houston had the third worst average of opponent points per game last year. James Harden and Jeremy Lin are both below-average defenders, which is why Brewer will be so valuable to this team.
Last season with Charlotte, Williams was less than impressive. He posted just 3.7 points per game in only 9.5 minutes on a pitiful Bobcats team. It's obvious that he belongs on the bubble, but why will he make the team?
The answer is simple: three-point shooting.
The Rockets attempted the most threes per game out of any team in the league. The Rockets love the three-ball, which is why GM Daryl Morey brought in Williams in the first place.
Williams is a career 37.1 percent shooter from deep. He struggled a bit last season, but his first two years with Golden State are enough proof that Williams can shoot the lights out. As long as the threes are falling, Williams will cement himself a spot on this team.
These are the players who make the team, but won't get to dress out. The inactives get to sit on the bench in street clothes, but not much else. If there is ever an injury, these guys' names are called.
In a surprising move, the Rockets brought back 39-year old center Marcus Camby. Camby played in Houston a couple of seasons ago before spending his last year in New York with the Knicks.
Camby had a very limited role with the Knicks, only appearing in 24 games. At his age, his skills on the court are not nearly as valuable as his skills off of it.
The main reason Camby is now a Rocket is his veteran experience. The Rockets are a fairly young and inexperienced team, with an average age of 25.5 years old. Over his 17-year career, Camby has learned a thing or two about being a professional in the NBA, and he can bring his wisdom to the Rockets locker room.
The Rockets are pretty set at center with Dwight Howard and Omer Asik on the depth chart. Camby will act more like a coach than a player, which is why he will be wearing a suit instead of a uniform once the season begins.
Like Camby, Brooks was once a Rocket who left and came back, but this time around his talents are no longer needed. Once the starting point guard for Houston, Brooks went to China and Sacramento before returning to his original team, this time as the third-string point guard.
Behind Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley, Brooks won't see any playing time unless there is an injury. Brooks' career 36.4 three-point percentage would be a nice fit in the Rockets system, but there just isn't enough room for him.
The depth chart is simply too deep.
At the end of last season, Brooks was an active for the Rockets, but he only played in seven games, averaging just above five minutes. This year, he will spend most of his time as an inactive, but if there is an injury, he will immediately become a key role player.
After an irrelevant season riding the bench in Cleveland, Casspi's career is looking despondent. He averaged just four points in his 11.7 minutes per game.
The Rockets gave him another chance when they signed him to a contract this offseason. Casspi needs to prove that he still belongs in the NBA or he could end up back overseas.
Unless Casspi can have an outstanding camp and preseason, it will be tough for him to make the team. Most likely, he will spend the majority of the season on the inactive list. He will be ready to go if there are any injuries to the forwards.
This category is for the young players who still need to develop their game. These guys all just got out of college and have a lot to learn before making it in the NBA.
Canaan was the only draft pick for Houston in June, taken 32nd overall. The point guard out of Murray State is a nifty scorer, and his career 41.9 three-point percentage in college fits well into the Rockets system.
Unfortunately, Canaan will have to wait his turn. There are already a few point guards ahead of him on the depth chart, and he hasn't had any NBA experience. Canaan missed the entire NBA summer league with an injury, which doesn't help his case.
If Canaan can patiently improve in Rio Grande Valley with the Vipers in the D-League, then he might be able to see some time with the Rockets later on in the year.
Covington signed on with the Rockets as an undrafted free agent. Coming from Tennessee State, he did not have high expectations, but he has been proving the doubters wrong.
During the summer league, Covington played well, averaging 12.4 points per game and earning himself a spot during training camp.
It's a long shot, but Covington could make the team by the end of the year, especially because of his career 42.2 three-point percentage. For now, he needs to continue to impress in the D-League.
Young is another undrafted free agent who played well during summer league for the Rockets and earned a spot at training camp. In four summer league games, Young averaged 11.8 points in just 18.5 minutes.
However, Young is just another prolific scoring guard, which the Rockets don't really need right now. He will serve his time in the D-League and wait for his opportunity to play with the big boys.
The Last One Out
This last category is for the ones who don't have much of a chance to make it to the NBA.
Henriquez is the third and final undrafted free agent currently under contract with Houston. The center from Kansas State averaged just five points and five boards during his senior campaign.
Better known for his defense, Henriquez does not really score or rebound the ball particularly well. Odds are that he won't make it all the way through training camp before getting the boot. Stranger things have happened though, so we'll see what happens.
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