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Rockets still figuring out final lineups and rotations before season

Rockets Thunder, Rockets Takeaways

The Houston Rockets used four different starting lineups through the preseason. A total of eight different players have seen their name called to start so far and the Rockets have deliberately collected data internally on all these units. While it’s pretty clear who three of the starters are going to be, the remaining two starters are anyone’s guess. With still some time before their season officially kicks off on Wednesday, the Rockets intend to spend every minute before finalizing on something.

“Still working on it,” said Stephen Silas when asked about lineups on Monday. “If you want to come to my office, I’ve got spreadsheets and emails and all kinds of things as far as what things look like.”

Historically, the Rockets haven’t been a team that’s kept lineups and rotations close to the vest so one could assume Silas is being honest here. Also, it’s clear Houston doesn’t exactly know what kind of unit they want yet. Slotting in forward Jae’Sean Tate gives the Rockets a totally different look than going with a three-guard lineup and Eric Gordon. The same goes for a lineup with Christian Wood at power forward versus Christian Wood at center. Houston has also toyed with the idea of making their rotations matchup-dependent versus the traditional constant.

“And then [we’re] honing in on Minnesota and what they’re lineups will be,” Silas continued. “At times, [it] will dictate a little bit how we’re going to play as far how we’re going to defend the five and that sort of thing.”

It’s important to note that while the Rockets may plan for a certain starting lineup, the NBA is pretty unpredictable. The Rockets had over three dozen starting lineups last season due to injuries and league health and safety protocols alone. They also may really like a lineup right now, but feel the need to change it ten games into the season because they like another one more.

“I think we somewhat have somewhat of a feel, but like anything throughout the course of the season, things could change,” acknowledged Tate. “I think the whole roster is prepared for whenever their name is called.”

It’s going to be a dog fight for Houston to get wins on the board throughout the regular season, so it’s not really anyone’s place to judge if they’re in a constant state of experiment. At the stage of the rebuild, experimenting is normal and healthy. When you’re a playoff team, there’s very little room for this kind of game-to-game tweaking. Before any of these young players establishes what they’re going to be in the NBA, Silas can play with this stuff and figure out what works best.

“I still have a little time left,” said Stephen Silas. “Not as much as I had before, but we’re still working on it.”

This is Houston’s last full practice for a while as they intend to spend Tuesday scrimmaging and ironing things out. The Rockets also scrimmaged some on Monday while re-integrating guard Eric Gordon, who missed the past few preseason games due to a sore left ankle.