Houston Rockets: P.J. Tucker’s honor indicates his progression as a player

Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker was a just a few votes shy of being on the NBA All-Defensive Team. What does this now indicate? Let’s examine further.

The Houston Rockets offseason has been a whirlwind of a mess so far and I certainly hope things get cleaned up soon.  From the rumors of contract — or non-contract extensions — to heated arguments and the news of the franchise cleaning coaching staff’s house, I’m actually looking forward to some good news coming out in regard to my team.

Our beloved Houston Rockets are going to be just fine but they’re still reeling from the shock of losing to the Golden State Warriors in six games.  The series should’ve gone the distance and it shouldn’t have ended so quickly.  Yes, there are heads that need to roll and accountability has taken but they’ll bounce back into the fray next season with some tweaks and higher intensity.

But speaking of intensity, how about that P.J. Tucker this season?  I can’t envision the Houston Rockets being successful without him and what he does night in and out doesn’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet.

He’s a gritty, mouthy and a feisty son-of-a-gun — with a bit of restraint sometimes — and he’ll go toe-to-toe with any of his defensive assignments and knock down a corner three whenever the situation warrants.

In fact, 70.3 percent of Tucker’s threes came from the corner while he nailed them at a 39.3 percent clip during the season.   For the playoffs, 80.7 percent of his attempts were from the corner and he hit them at 45.7 percent.  The corner is perfect for a guy like P.J. where he doesn’t necessarily have the length to hoist from other areas of the floor accurately but has the strength to shoot from the corner, the closest area to the basket at 22 feet.  This enables him to hit those threes at a prolific rate.

He’s diving for loose balls, he’s attacking the glass and it wasn’t for his size, he’d be ruling the paint wherever he went.  Although he’s listed at 6-foot-9, I’m sure the man is a lot closer to 6-foot-7 but it’s his heart of giant that keeps his engine going and it actually quite inspirational if you ask me.

The voting returns are in and Tucker was edged out by Kawhi Leonard for a spot on the NBA All-Defensive second team.

According to the Chron’s Jonathan Feigen, Tucker received one first-team vote and 36 second-team votes but Leonard received five first-team votes, which put him over the top to land a spot on the team as a forward.

Feigen writes that this wasn’t an accolade that Tucker was fighting for.  This is okay with me — professional athletes use a variety of things to keep them motivated and Tucker said that he just wants to win basketball games which, to me, is all that’s important.

Tucker who signed a four-year, $32 million deal back in the 2017 offseason is proving that he’s providing immense value for his services.  This upcoming season he will earn $8.3 million and has a team option of $8 million for the 2020-21 season, the final season of his contract.  If he keeps this up, there’s no doubt that the team will pick that option up.

One thing that does show up on the stat sheet about his defensive prowess is his improvement on getting the steals.  Tucker had a career-high 132 steals last season which is good for 7th in the NBA and his 1.6 steals per game were good for 11th in 2018-19 as well.

Lest we not forget about his durability — he hasn’t missed a game since the 2016-17 season and has only missed five games over the past five seasons.  This further indicates that this man shows up to work every day with his lunch pail and ready to do whatever it takes to make his team successful.

Tucker, a second-round pick selected by the Toronto Raptors in 2006, has carved himself out a

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niche.  For guy that spent a good chunk of his early career in Europe with no desire to come back, the fact of how he’s progressed as a professional ballplayer is amazing.

I’m sure Tucker didn’t envision this was what his destiny was to be in the short-term but it’s finally come full circle with a team that’s he’s a great fit with.  He also with an organization where the team — as well as its fans — have embraced him fully.

How could you not like a guy like Tucker?  Stories like his are absolutely inspirational and the book to his career his far from being completely written.  There’s more in store — and hopefully, that will include a ride on a cruising fire truck down La Branch Street in downtown Houston donning Rockets‘ Red.  That would be the capstone to an astonishing journey where he scrapped for everything that he has today.

I’m positive that he will get that All-Defensive Team nod in the near future!

Keep on trucking P.J.!

Next. Rockets: Harden and Paul postseason conflict should invoke changes. dark

Tucker, 34, averaged 7.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals with a shooting line of .396/.377/.695 through all 82 games in 2018-19.