One of the bigger questions regarding the new season for the Houston Rockets is the question of the minutes Dwight Howard and Omer Asik will spend together on the court and which one of them will step outside the paint. By having a point guard like Jeremy Lin who doesn’t exactly help stretch the floor isn’t the best ingredient for that kind of planned recipe.
Daryl Morey went on Reddit to give an AMA, and one of the subjects he spoke about was how the team is planning to use Howard and Asik together in lineups, even though the initial reaction to the signing of Howard seemed to lean towards Asik simply becoming his backup, while either Greg Smith or Donatas Motiejunas will get the starting spot next to Howard.
But there is justification to use Howard and Asik in the same lineup, even if both of them get their points in the paint and aren’t exactly known for being able to spread the floor, as long as the Rockets can put on a lineup with at least three options that can open up the inside for Howard, Asik or anyone else.
Now, if Jeremy Lin is the designated starting point guard, it’s hard to see how the Howard-Asik dynamic works out in the starting lineup. James Harden (36.8% from beyond the arc) and Chandler Parsons (38.5% from three) are certainly excellent options for players who can stretch a defense, but Jeremy Lin as it’s been proven last season, isn’t the kind of player with the range and the consistency from beyond the arc to be worth using in such a lineup.
The Rockets have other shooters on the team, including Patrick Beverley who hit 37.5% from beyond the arc last season. If the Rockets are planning to use Asik and Howard in the same lineup, Beverley, who isn’t remotely close to Lin in terms of playmaking abilities and passing, might be a better fit, which means that using Asik and Howard in the starting lineup or for substantial minutes isn’t going to be the best of ideas.
Smith and Motiejunas bring different things to the table in terms of a complementary act next to Howard. The Lithuanian is probably the better option when looking for a stretch 4, even though he hit less than 29% of his three point attempts last season. Smith is a bit more of a classic power forward, if there even is such a thing anymore in the NBA.
Best lineup for the Rockets? It remains to be seen, but it’s hard to believe it doesn’t involve Howard and Harden together. The one with Asik does offer a lockdown duo in the paint, but it also means a small-ball team on the other end will give them quite a few problems in terms of stretching their defense. Looking at the options and how it affects other players, but specifically with Lin who isn’t a three-point specialist or a defensive stopper, it doesn’t seem like the Howard-Asik duo will be seen for too many minutes each night.