3 Ways The Rockets Will Benefit From Dumping John Wall
If there was ever a cloud over Houston’s upcoming season, it was veteran guard John Wall’s presence on the team. The Rockets are set up to be this young, vibrant team coming off a brutal 17-win season and Wall never fit into that vision. It’s healthier that both parties realized this now rather than later so Houston can move forward in a clear direction. There’s no sense in trying to fit a square peg into a round hole if you don’t have to.
In addition to having that clearer vision, Wall’s absence enables Houston to do so many things that they weren’t able to if he were on the team. Let’s go through some of those now.
1. A rotation that actually makes sense
With John Wall, Houston’s rotation was incredibly difficult to predict going into the season. Wall, Kevin Porter Jr., and Jalen Green all had strong cases to start next season. However, it was unlikely head coach Stephen Silas would start a three-guard lineup with Jae’Sean Tate, Christian Wood, and Daniel Theis also presumably owed starting spots. Now the Rockets have the flexibility to start what they believe is their backcourt of the future: Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green. Filling in the rest is pretty easy.
PG – Kevin Porter Jr./Dante Exum
SG – Jalen Green/Eric Gordon
SF – Jae’Sean Tate/Danuel House/David Nwaba
PF – Christian Wood/Kenyon Martin Jr.
C – Daniel Theis/Alperen Sengun or Usman Garuba
An 11-man rotation is totally doable in a regular season setting, but anything beyond that is stretching it. I’d expect Josh Christopher and one of Houston’s rookie bigs (Alperen Sengun or Usman Garuba) to play the majority of their season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Playing time may open up with injuries throughout the course of the season or an Eric Gordon trade.
2. Proper usage for the young backcourt
John Wall’s usage rate spiked to career highs last season and it really left little oxygen for the rest of Houston’s backcourt. That was fine last season as there wasn’t anyone else to take on the playmaking duties. Kevin Porter Jr. was still in the G League when Wall was healthy and Eric Gordon missed the bulk of last season. Now, Porter Jr. and Jalen Green will have plenty of usage to develop and make their mistakes. Green will be able to start and take a ton of his signature isolation possessions, whereas that may have been in question with Wall on the roster.
3. Kevin Porter Jr. learns the point guard position
Because of how gifted of a playmaker he is, Kevin Porter Jr.’s best role in the NBA may be as a point guard. This Rockets team specifically would benefit from him playing the position as Jalen Green isn’t the best playmaker at this point of his career. That could change, but passing is just instinctual for Porter Jr. and Wall’s absence forces Porter Jr. to take on those duties. He’s obviously versatile enough to slide over to the shooting guard and those opportunities will come, but team construction-wise, Houston would like Porter Jr. to flash elite play at lead guard.
I’m a Point Guard. 💼
— Scoot (@Kevinporterjr) July 10, 2021
He’s going to need to iron out the horrendous assist to turnover ratio, but that will come with reps. Porter Jr. has a lot of financial incentive to have a breakout season as he’s extension eligible next summer. If he embraces this facilitating role, there’s a chance he surprises a lot of people with the numbers he puts up. If I were a betting man, I’d run to a sportsbook and put some money down on Porter Jr.’s Most Improved Player odds (+900 at BetMGM).