Time for Relaunch
How the return of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Eric Gordon will impact the Rockets
Recently, the Houston Rockets struggled defensively and offensively against the Denver Nuggets. Even though James Harden and Christian Wood were dynamic on offense, it still wasn't enough. James combined for 78 points in the last two games, while Christian had 54 points. The good news is the Rockets get back John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Eric Gordon Thursday night, which is New Year's Eve.
Defensively, the Rockets needed Gordon and Wall against the Portland Trail Blazers and the Nuggets, because of their on-ball defending skills. Gordon and Wall show the true importance in defending the pick-n-roll, fighting screens, and making it extremely hard for guards on the perimeter. Gordon's defensive rating was a 101.7 in the 2019-2020 season, while Wall averaged 98.6 on a bad knee two years ago before his injury. Wall and Gordon would have made it tough for Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Jamal Murray, and Portland's role players as well.
The Rockets second unit will improve with Cousins back in the rotation. Cousins provides a spark off the bench because of his shooting. In the preseason, Cousins shot 46 percent from the perimeter, which is extremely valuable to the Rockets' offense. Hopefully, Cousins will be able to mix it up more because of his versatility on offense. Cousins' potential on offense will maximize the Rockets' second unit. Houston could easily have one of the best second units in the NBA because of Gordon and Cousins.
Hopefully, Gordon can transform back to the Sixth Man he was in the 2017-2018 season. In the last two years with the Rockets, Gordon struggled with injures and/or shooting. During training camp, Gordon seemed optimistic and determined to return to averaging 19 points per game and shooting 48 percent from the 3-point line. Gordon averaged 15 points per game during the previous preseason with the Rockets.
Wall will add another scoring threat in the Rockets' starting five because of his athleticism and playmaking skills. Like Gordon and Cousins, Wall will be able to help Harden and Wood. Wall could possibly average 18-20 points per game for the Rockets' offense this season. He still has his explosiveness off the dribble and is able to get by his defenders quickly. Throughout the preseason defenders had a tough time staying in front of Wall, which allowed him to score 16.3 points per game in three games.
Hopefully, the Rockets go on a winning streak starting with the Sacramento Kings Thursday night. The Kings are 3-1 and one of the hottest young teams in the Western Conference, which will be a good test for the Rockets because of their guards and perimeter shooting.