Houston Rockets Poised To Make A Big Upgrade On Defense?


The Houston Rockets have notoriously been labeled as a bad defensive team year after year dating back to the mid 2000’s. Could next season be a new era of change? That certainly remains to be a big possibility.

Last season, the only two players on Houston’s starting five that were really considered defensive stoppers were Patrick Beverley and Dwight Howard. Everyone in between was considered lackluster at best. We all know about James Harden‘s defensive deficiencies and it seems so does about everyone in the league (ie. Ty Lawson). Chandlers Parsons, for some reason, was written off as a “good” defender by some, however the Rockets actually allowed 5.7 less points per 100 possessions whenever he was on the bench. It also became apparent just how bad of a pick-and-roll defender he was towards the end of the season. (ie Damian Lillard shot)

Terrence Jones, believe it or not, isn’t as bad as a defender as some write him off to be. The main reason people write him off the begin with is because of his defense against LaMarcus Aldridge in the first round of the playoffs. The young, undersized 22-year old forward was forced to cover possibly the hardest cover at his position in 29-year old All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. That is no easy task for someone who was still trying to get acclimated to the NBA level. He is forced to guard the best of the best every night at his position in the Western Conference against the likes of Tim Duncan, Serge Ibaka, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Zach Randolph, and others.

Now, how exactly are the Rockets poised to improved on that end of the floor next season? Let’s start with the biggest problem himself in James Harden. If you watched James Harden at all during his FIBA play, you could definitely see a renewed effort on the defensive end of the floor coming from him. He even stated in an interview that he wants to be a more skilled defender and indirectly acknowledged the need for him to step up as a defensive player.

The small forward position is where you see the biggest upgrade in terms of defense. Trevor Ariza is everything Chandler Parsons wasn’t on defensive. Excellent one-on-one defender, great pick and roll defender, and someone who can take on the best non-point guard perimeter player with ease. Ariza, unlike Parsons, could possibly even make-up for Harden’s poor defensive play if he doesn’t make a drastic improvement this year. He’s the type of guy you want to guard the likes of Kevin Durant, Lebron James, and Carmelo Anthony. In fact, Ariza even received some All-Defensive team votes this year.

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Now we arrive back at Terrence Jones. Jones has so much room to grow as a player and a defender that it’s almost exciting. Jones has that athleticism that would lead you to believe that he has great potential to become a solid defensive player in the NBA. The only thing holding him back on defense is his size. The 6’9 power forward isn’t exactly the ideal height for his position but for what he lacks in height, he makes up for in wingspan. Throughout the years, we’ve seen players work with his size before and be a successful defender (Most notably Memphis big man Zach Randolph). So before you write off Terrence Jones, please keep in mind the man is only 22 and still hasn’t reached the fullest of his potential on defense.

With all these possibly upgrades, it’s easy to see how the Rockets could potentially improve from their current defensive ranking in the NBA (12) and crack the top 10 defenses next season. It’s certainly a possibility and with Patrick Beverley, Trevor Ariza, and Dwight Howard anchoring this team on defense, the sky’s the limit.

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