Houston Rockets Role Players to Watch

James Harden and Klay Thompson
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Once again, the Houston Rockets are heading into the season looking to defeat the impenetrable Golden State Warriors. The margin for error is small, to say the least, one pulled right hamstring small to be exact.

Barring some Daryl Morey-magic, Houston’s roster is set. They added wings Michael Carter-Williams and Carmelo AnthonyYet will have to deal with departed Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. With the exception of these changes, the Rockets have decided to run it back with essentially the same core group. In hopes to once again dethrone the Golden State dynasty. Since the margin for error is minimal (and Houston having one of the oldest teams in the league), they will need role players to step it up if they want to have a chance to win the West.

Houston Rockets Role Players This Season

Michael Carter-Williams

Michael Carter-Williams, coming off a one year deal with the Charlotte Hornets (his fourth team in five years) is looking to have a comeback season in Houston this year. Multiple injuries have held back the once Rookie of the Year. He’s dealt with injuries these past two seasons and looks to bounce back. Coach D’antoni will likely use him as a backup guard, his height and defensive quickness will allow him to fit into Houston’s ‘switch everything defense’. If he can get his offensive game back to the level it was prior to his two most recent injuries, he may be a great value pick up for Houston.

Gerald Green

Houston Fan favorite Gerald Green (and his crazy haircuts) are back and ready to suit up for another season in Houston. The journeyman has played for nine NBA teams over the course of his career. Most recently finding success in D’antoni’s three-point heavy offensive schemes, from which Green posted career highs in attempts and made baskets, 7.3 and 2.7 respectively.  Certainly, a full training camp, preseason, and extra practice time will help this off-season.

Coach D’antoni and the coaching staff will hope that he continues to grow more comfortable getting into position to score playing next to James Harden and Chris Paul. Acting as an instant offensive contributor off the bench, Green could be a significant factor in close games. Houston will need his shooting and playmaking abilities when Harden and CP3 are resting.

Zhou Qi

Although Zhou spent most of last season traveling back and forth between Houston and their G league counterpart, Rio Grande Valley Vipers. There is a reason to believe that Zhou may receive significant minutes on the floor for Houston this year. Many young Houston big men have spent time early on in their careers developing with the Vipers, for example; Marcus Morris, Joey Dorsey, Montrezl Harrell, Chinanu Onuaku, and even Clint Capela.

He is a 7-footer with an uncanny ability to shoot from deep, he led the CBA (Chinese Basketball League) in blocks in back to back seasons and was a three-time All-Star prior to being drafted to the NBA. He is coming off a strong Summer League performance, averaging 12 points, 6.5 rebounds, and shot 55.6% from three. If Nene Hilario gets hurt, or Coach D’antoni rests him, expect to see Zhou coming off the bench. Given a chance, filling in the backup center minutes, Zhou could excel in D’antoni’s offense. His presence will stretch the floor giving Harden and CP3 the space needed to drive and dish. 

 

Main Image:

James Harden and Klay Thompson. (Photo by Mark Downey Lucid Images/Corbis via Getty Images)