Apr 25, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; The Houston Rockets bench reacts after guard Troy Daniels (30) makes the game wining shot in overtime against the Portland Trail Blazers in game three of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets: A Revitalized Bench?

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As we move through the summer and through the fall to the start of the 2014-15 season, something peculiar has happened.

The Houston Rockets’ bench just got better!

With Daryl Morey so focused on landing Dwight Howard, all resources were utilized to make sure that he got his man.

He sure did but I honestly think that the focus of the Rockets’ bench was more of an afterthought.

He may have felt that it was just one of those things that would work itself out.

I honestly think that it didn’t — when our starters would get hurt, it would be extremely tough for our bench players to fill the shoes of the starters and there were some games that had me wondering what would’ve happened if the player that had been replaced because of injury had been healthy.

Nov 23, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets power forward Dwight Howard (left), small forward Chandler Parsons (center), and shooting guard James Harden (right) on the bench during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

We had a solid starting five last season which comprised of:  Patrick Beverley, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones and Howard.

But when they went down, we continued to chug along but with a bit of sputtering along the way.

Let’s take a look closer using ESPN’s John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER) formula.  This important stat helps gauge how valuable players are to their respective teams using a detailed calculation with a myriad of stats.  The league average is 15.00.

It’s no surprise that the team’s top two PER leaders were Harden at 23.51 and Howard at 21.36.  At this moment, these two players are the bedrock of which this team is currently built on and will need them to thrive.

But take a look at the third-highest PER…

Terrence Jones has the honor of that distinction with a 19.14.  He had an incredible breakout year where he had more playing time than ever and he made the most of it.

For that, I’m proud and happy for his success.

Apr 20, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones (6) drives the ball during the third quarter as Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) defends in game one during the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 20, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones (6) drives the ball during the third quarter as Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) defends in game one during the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

And it showed…

Jones was primarily healthy for most of the season, appearing in 76 games.  But, as I recall, we suffered a bit when he wasn’t in that lineup.

According to NBA.com, some of the most inefficient lineups last season did not include Jones.

But the PER does have its flaws.

It doesn’t necessarily reward players that are highly-defensive minded like Beverley — he only has a 12.43 rating and we all know how valuable he is to this team.  Some things just don’t show on the stat sheet.

But it may explain into further detail why Parsons and Jeremy Lin were expendable — each had a 15.90 and 14.31 rating respectively.

That’s right at/below the league average.

And it could be a factor as to why Morey is confident we can build a winner without those guys with some of the free agents brought in this summer such as Trevor Ariza.

With the strong performances from players like Donatas Motiejunas, Isaiah Canaan and Nick Johnson in the NBA Summer League action it warrants their retention and beefs up the bench.

Morey recently spoke with the Rockets’ checkbook and inked Johnson to a three-year deal.  

He also has brought back Joey Dorsey and Ishmael Smith back into the fold for a second stint.  Bringing back key reserves such as Troy Daniels is a must.

Since the Rockets lost out on some of the biggest names in free agency this off season, it’s refreshing to know that they’re at least focused on beefing up the bench.

Who knows?  This may cause us to overachieve, shatter the mold once again and exceed expectations.

Were the Rockets ever the favorite to win the championship?  No.

But we did anyway and we did it back-to-back.

Here’s our chance with our new look bench!  Keep battling Morey!

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