Three games into the preseason, there have been plenty of positives but also a few negatives for the Houston Rockets. While many players are off to hot starts, others have been struggling thus far and will need to pick up the pace.
Some of the role players on Houston's bench haven't been contributing as much as coach Kevin McHale would like them to. It's still very early, and all the new guys have to find their niches in the rotation and build chemistry before everything starts clicking.
Here are Rockets players who need to step up before the regular season rolls around.
Jones is one of three guys who are competing for the starting role at power forward, and so far he is not exactly winning.
In three preseason games, Jones is averaging 6.6 points and 6.0 rebounds. After a solid first outing against the New Orleans Pelicans in which he scored 13 points, he hasn't scored more than five since. His games overseas against the Indiana Pacers have been less-than-impressive, while other Rockets are doing well.
Greg Smith has hardly played due to a hip injury so it's hard to tell whether he will get back in the mix for the starting job. Donatas Motiejunas had a rough first game after fouling out but has looked good in the past two.
He scored 16 and 10 points in each of those respective games, and his 55 percent field-goal percentage is respectable. He still needs to work on his rebounding and defense, but Rockets fans are definitely pleased with what they have been seeing.
Jones can still win the starting gig, but he has to turn things up a notch.
He was just 1-of-8 from the field last game, which is not good enough to earn the job. He needs to shoot better and have a bigger impact while he is on the floor if he wants to prove to McHale that he belongs.
The Rockets added Brewer to the roster this summer to help with their pitiful perimeter defense. His main role is to defend opposing playmakers.
Brewer is not expected to be a scorer, but he has to do better than what he's done so far. He only has six points in all three games combined and has room for improvement in other stat categories as well. The Rockets have a high-powered offense that likes to run up the scoreboard, and having a weak link in the lineup could ruin the offensive rhythm.
If Brewer wants to get consistent minutes each night, he has to work on his offensive game. Houston can't afford to have him in the game if he isn't able to score the ball when given the opportunity.
Brewer's minutes will most likely be limited to big defensive possessions during the game—unless he can improve his shooting.
The Rockets' only draft pick this summer has the potential to be a key impact player down the road, but Canaan has not proved himself yet in his first games of NBA action.
Canaan has yet to score a single point as a Rocket.
He has played for a very limited amount of time, but it still is not a good sign that he hasn't even made a single shot. Canaan was a terrific scorer last year for Murray State, and the Rockets want him to fill that same role in the NBA.
Odds are Canaan will spend the majority of the year with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the D-League. The Rockets have a lot of depth at point guard with Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverley and Aaron Brooks all ahead of Canaan.
The only way he will get any playing time is if there are any injuries in the Rockets' backcourt.
Canaan will get his chance one day, but he will have to show a lot of improvement in the meantime.
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