Rockets going small

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Charles Garrison, Staff Writer

On January 31, 2020, For the first time in 57 years, an NBA team played a full game without playing a man over 6’6”. 

This was the start of a new style of play.

Since that historic game, the Houston Rockets have continued to follow their strategy of “Small Ball”. The Rockets have gone 4-0 with the lineup not including a Center, or any player over 6’8”. 

The new small ball era began with Clint Capela’s injury leaving the rockets without their premier big man, and they adapted to their new identity.

With the team performing well and coming out of their previous slump, this will likely be the way the rockets orchestrate their team for the remainder of the season.

After starting to see results of the highly effective small ball lineup, the Houston Rockets decided to be active in the trade deadline, negotiating with three other teams for a massive four team trade. These teams included the Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, and Denver Nuggets.

This trade landed the rockets Robert Covington, a 6’8”  “3 and D” Power Forward that is so coveted in the NBA. This size and ability to shoot threes and play defense makes Covington a seamless fit into our team.

In the trade, the Rockets gave up longtime starting center Clint Capela, backup center Nene, and a shooting guard in Gerald Green. This officially let the NBA know that the rockets are all in on the small ball style of play, as they traded their only big man to get significant minutes in Capela. 

The first game since the Capela trade was a statement to the league. On February 6, the Rockets went to Los Angeles to play against the top-seeded Lakers and some of the best big men in basketball in 6’9” LeBron James, 6’10” Anthony Davis, and 6’11” Dwight Howard. 

With memes and slander flying all over the internet and media, many expected this unorthodox style of placing 6’5” PJ Tucker at Center to defend the behemoths in James, Davis, and Howard would go horribly. However, the Rockets silenced these doubts in the best way possible, going to Staples Center and shocking the Lakers. 

With the Rockets tallest listed player to enter the game being the newly-acquired 6’7” Robert Covington, Houston went nuclear offensively against much bigger competition. The Rockets went 19-42 from three point range, an impressive 45% mark.

The Rockets play-style is morphing into something the NBA has never seen before, and with a promising start, time will tell how the league will react.