Potential decisions for Stephen Silas and Rafael Stone at Rockets camp
First of all, let’s clarify: green is clearly the favorite to start with. Being the second overall pick in a loaded 2021 draft brings huge expectations, and he did nothing to lessen them with a strong performance in the Summer League. The 6-foot-6 goalie is widely seen as the future face of the franchise, and there’s a good chance he’ll start opening night alongside Wall, Porter Jr., Wood and Theis or Tate. Meanwhile, Gordon is likely projecting as the sixth man, a role he has had tremendous success in throughout his distinguished career in the NBA.
That said, Green is only 19 and suffered a right thigh injury in mid-August, which cut his stint in the summer championship short. What if it’s not 100% at the end of September? What if the injury gets worse again, which is not so uncommon with soft tissue injuries? What if Green’s extraordinary performance in Las Vegas was all about a relatively small sample size and he looked more human in the preseason?
No matter what happens during training camp and preseason, Green is extremely talented and brings enthusiasm to the team, coaching staff and fans. He will immediately play at the NBA level, assuming health. The G League is not remotely a consideration.
But, if Green is struggling or has injury issues, it’s not unlikely to see Gordon as an opening night starter. Gordon remains a very solid two-way guard, averaging around 18 points per game last season, and it’s almost a lock that Gordon will be a better defenseman in 2021-22 than Green as a rookie. In that scenario, Green would still play substantial minutes, but perhaps as the sixth man on the bench to start the season.
In theory, if the Rockets decide to throw Theis into the frontcourt next to Wood, Tate could become a factor in that debate. Danuel House Jr. might also have an argument. However, in any unlikely scenario where Green doesn’t start on October 20, his promotion in the starting lineup is unlikely to be far off. As such, given that this position would be temporary, it would appear that Gordon is a better fit than Tate or House – since Gordon’s playstyle is more analogous to Green’s and would cause less disruption once the inevitable change is over. long term is done.
There’s a good chance Houston will start three guards on opening night, and Green is clearly the favorite to play alongside Porter Jr. and Wall. But at this point, it would be premature to exclude Gordon.