Houston Rockets: Ben McLemore is trending to be the team’s new sixth man

Houston Rockets guard Ben McLemore (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets guard Ben McLemore (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets guard Ben McLemore has climbed his way into the rotation and it shouldn’t just stop there. He’s on track to be the new sixth man. Why?

Houston Rockets fans — through just seven games, our team is just one game above .500 which is about where I expected them to be at this point in the season.  It’s going to take some time for the new parts of this team to fuse together and before we know it, they’re going to hit their stride and the team will start climbing their way through the standings.

While we sit back and watch the Los Angeles Lakers sail to a hot start, the Houston Rockets climb will be a lot more gradual as it’s fully expected that James Harden and Russell Westbrook will continue to tweak the best way on how each can maximize their touches on the basketball in order to make plays to help this team win.

The offense still remains robust and they’re currently ranked third in the NBA in offensive efficiency, scoring 108.3 points per 100 possessions.  Only the Brooklyn Nets (108.4/100) and the Milwaukee Bucks (109.9/100) are currently ranked better than this team, despite some of the shooting woes from players like Harden and Eric Gordon have had.

But it’s the defense that needs tweaking.

The team defense has been absolutely atrocious and they’re currently ranked next-to-last in defensive efficiency, allowing 111.7 points per 100 possessions.  Only the Golden State Warriors (gasp!) are ranked lower (113.9 per 100) are ranked lower than our team.

That’s got to be shored up if this team is expected to compete with the best and try to win a championship.  Otherwise, what’s going to happen is that this team is going to win a lot of games but will fall short, likely in the first round of the playoffs.  Let’s hope that does not happen as I’m banking on a gradual ascent of this team as things get deeper into the Winter.

A guy that will be able to help with the ascent that I speak of is Ben McLemore.

I praised the signing that the Houston Rockets made of this talented guard that has his hangups but I think can make a valuable contribution to this team.  In the past, I wanted general manager Daryl Morey to trade for him but nabbing him while he’s in the middle of a slump in his career is exactly what the doctor ordered.

He’s been trying his best to crack the rotation and now he’s finally gotten a shot.

McLemore has been promoted and he has gone from being deep on the bench with few minutes to averaging 24 minutes a game over the past three games.

He’s making the most of his opportunity from behind-the-arc as well with 35 of his last 38 attempts being from that area of the court, which is imperative if you want to survive in Mike

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D’Antoni’s system.  He’s currently making his threes at a 37.9 percent clip which is quite impressive.  He’s also shooting 40.6 percent from the field.

Here’s what D’Antoni had to say about McLemore via the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen:

"“Ben, I’m starting to really like him,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s was like 3 of 10 (on 3-pointers Monday.) Two or three were down and in and came out. He could have easily been 6 of 10. But his defense and his smartness and knowing how to stay in the plays, I’m starting to trust him. He knows when he screws up. But he’s been good, solid.”"

When the McLemore signing occurred, I foreshadowed that he could be the team’s new sixth man — since Gordon flourishes better in the starting lineup — and it looks like things are trending in that direction.

Despite D’Antoni’s praise, his defensive rating is currently 119 which would be good 2nd-lowest among the team — Austin Rivers is ranked last at 120 — but I think what he’s done in this three-game stretch is what has impressed the coaching staff as of late.

If depth gets thin on the roster for whatever reason, McLemore is a guy that you could start occasionally.  But I think his bread and butter will be coming off the bench.

Next. A summertime prediction of Ben McLemore's future role. dark

Although he has a way to go, the conversation that we’ll be having about a month from now is that McLemore will be the first guy called off the bench when it’s time for the dirty work to get done.

Let’s hope for the best — go Houston Rockets!