Ranking the Houston Rockets' Offseason Acquisitions
Amid the litany of very public offseason losses the Houston Rockets experienced this offseason—striking out on Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony and saying goodbye to Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons—they actually made some useful acquisitions.
The names on the marquee have gotten smaller, but there's a good chance the Rockets have at least replaced the lost production with their new pieces.
The Rockets’ new role players are a combination of uppity defenders and scorers who can easily function in Houston’s pressing, full-court offensive style. Despite losing some serious contributors this summer, the Rockets come into the 2014-15 season with an exciting new cupboard of talent.
Honorable Mention: Troy Daniels
A D-League outlier, Troy Daniels was called up to Houston from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers specifically for the 2014 postseason. Daniels shocked the world when he crossed from anonymity into folk-hero status with his game-winning three-pointer in Game 3 against the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Rockets have since extended Daniels to a two-year, $2 million contract. He's technically a retained player more than an acquisition, but Daniels' role will still be relatively new this season. With any luck, he'll be like an added rotation player. His preternatural comfort as a speedy catch-and-shoot weapon is sure to give opposing defenses headaches all season.
The undersized 6'4" Daniels may not be able to offer much defensively—time will tell. If so, the Rockets will have to use him only in particular scenarios where he can be hidden on less threatening scorers.
But if his 53 percent three-point shooting playoff performance is any indication, Daniels is a nice extra weapon to have lying around.
5. Joey Dorsey
Joey Dorsey is a journeyman. A bulky power forward who found his largest role yet in 43 games with the Toronto Raptors, Dorsey still only averaged 12.1 minutes per game.
Fans shouldn't expect Dorsey to play much in Houston, either. But the loss of Asik might mean Dorsey has his chances to fill in against bigger teams, especially if Dwight Howard is injured at all. Donatas Motiejunas is ahead of Dorsey in the depth chart, but he's less comfortable bashing bodies in the lane than he is taking jumpers and passing from the elbow.
If Dorsey wasn't as big as he is—6'8", 268 lbs.—he wouldn't be in the league. He'll have to be a physical presence and move that weight around to make any ends meet with the Rockets.
4. Alonzo Gee
Alonzo Gee is probably the least mentioned pickup of the Rockets. A small forward who is average or worse in essentially every dimension, Gee isn’t likely to get a ton of playing time in Houston.
He only averaged 15.7 minutes per game with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, a struggling squad that failed to crack the playoffs despite playing in a weak Eastern Conference. When the Cavs traded for Luol Deng in January, it was because Gee wasn't filling his small forward hole.
Gee’s best shot at prominence in Houston? Making shots or playing good defense. Anyone who can shoot three-pointers has chance at cracking coach Kevin McHale’s rotation, and wing defense was the team’s greatest flaw last season.
3. Nick Johnson
Nick Johnson, nicknamed “Bunnies” at The University of Arizona, can really jump. A breathtaking athlete with immense aerial intuition, Johnson should feel at home in the Rockets’ go-go offense.
Houston was smart to notice Johnson late in June’s NBA draft. Many teams had passed on him despite being a starry, productive NCAA player. Johnson is simply too small for what he does; if you’re 6’3” in the NBA, you better be a playmaker or a jump-shooter.
Johnson is neither; he's an off-the-ball menace who’s most effective at the rim. The Rockets will hope for him to develop into something like a poor man’s version of Eric Bledsoe, a similarly undersized force in the paint.
Johnson’s upside is tantalizing. He’s freakishly athletic enough to win a dunk contest and is sure to provide at least a few soaring highlights for Houston this season.
2. Jeff Adrien
A University of Connecticut alumnus who’s bounced around the D-League and international game, Jeff Adrien found his most comfortable NBA groove yet with the Milwaukee Bucks last season.
Adrien developed a reputation as a workhorse wingman in Milwaukee, and the Rockets could use more of those. He had three double-doubles in the final month of the season, against the Toronto Raptors (twice) and the Indiana Pacers. His role in Houston should be primarily about covering for James Harden defensively in relief of Trevor Ariza.
Adrien is energetic, and at 243 pounds he’s big-bodied for a perimeter man. Fans should grow fond of his defensive blue-collar ethic the same they have with point guard Patrick Beverley.
1. Trevor Ariza
As Chandler Parsons’ de facto replacement and a former Rocket, Trevor Ariza is a better fit than Parsons for what the Rockets are right now.
A strong perimeter defender with a championship ring from his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, Ariza brings to the table more of what Houston really needs. He shot a better mark from beyond the arc (41 percent) than Parsons (37 percent) last year.
Parsons was a more reliable creator for himself, but the Rockets aren’t short on that quality. In his second stint with Houston, Ariza should be an upgrade for a team that overtaxed Dwight Howard with recovery defense work last year. Ariza is here to shore up his new team’s greatest weakness.