The defensive juggernaut
Who was the best key defender in Rocket’s history?
In Rocket's history there have been three key defenders. Shane Battier, Trevor Ariza, and PJ Tucker have been dominant on the defensive side for the Rockets. But the main question is who was the best?
Shane Battier played in Houston for four seasons and was a great necessity to the team. Battier played extremely hard against different opponents like Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James. Battier would guard any team's toughest opponent. The biggest trick Battier would use was put his hand in the defender's face. Battier would use his hands to disrupt the shot from going off. He made NBA All-Defensive Second Team two times with the Rockets. He would never let off the gas when it came to guarding an offensive opponent. Battier was also helpful on the offensive side as well by making clutch three-point shots. His numbers never blossomed offensively, but he made shots when they counted.
Shane Battier's defense on Kobe Bryant (2009 playoffs) youtu.be
In all honesty, Battier's career was wasted in Houston. He did play is role to perfection but the team itself would fall short because of injuries. Battier was traded back to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2010 then won two NBA Championships with the Miami Heat.
Trevor Ariza was brought to Houston in 2009-10 because of the success he had with the Los Angeles Lakers. Even though Ariza stayed in Houston for a year, he was traded to the New Orleans Hornets. Daryl Morey decided to bring Ariza back after the Rockets lost Chandler Parsons to free agency in 2014. Ariza was able to use his length and athleticism to guard opponents. He also had great lateral quickness to stay in front of people. His best attribute was to fight and chase opponents around screens. Ariza would guard anybody who would cause a threat to the Rocket's defense.
Trevor Ariza Defense On Russell Westbrook , March 23, 2017 youtu.be
Ariza was a better scorer than Battier because of his shooting and ability to finish on fastbreaks. He had a quick trigger when it came to taking shots. Ariza was faulted for the 22 missed threes against the Golden State Warriors in game seven though. Houston decided to let him walk into free agency because of the money he requested.
PJ Tucker is a big body that Houston got in free agency when he left Toronto. Even though Tucker is 6'6 ft, he is very strong and has great feet. Do not let Tucker size fool you from defending players who are bigger, smaller, and taller than him. Tucker can stick with any opponent in the league. He has great hands that allows him to be disruptive in the passing lanes. Players also have tough time getting their shot off because he defends the shot well.
P.J Tucker Lockdown Defense on Kawhi Leonard Rockets @ Clippers 12/19/19 youtu.be
Tucker has become real good corner three-point shooter for the Rockets. He is shooting 49% from the left corner this season. Tucker is not much of scorer but has his moments. His moments really come in the playoffs. He shot 45% percent in the playoffs last year
Tucker and Battier are both tangible because they are great with their hands.
Each player was valuable but who is the most important defensively? Let the tapes tell the story.