With the season just around the corner for the Houston Rockets, it’s time to find a sweet spot for Jabari Smith, TyTy Washington and Tari Eason on offense and defense. Every player is gifted with length and athleticism because the Rockets need those talented attributes. These players can contribute to attack and defense. Putting Smith, Washington and Eason in the right places is important to their success on the Rockets.
Smith and Eason can keep one-to-five throughout the game on defense. Stephen Silas mentioned he was already on his laptop figuring out the best spots for these two on defense. Watching clips of Eason and Smith on college defense got interesting. They can both stay ahead of their man in defense thanks to each player’s lateral quickness. Smith and Eason also have excellent defensive IQs.
Eason does an amazing job of having active hands in the passing lanes, including being a nuisance while playing ball defense. At LSU, Eason averaged 1.9 steals per game, which is as incredible as his defensive plus/minus (5.7) per basketball benchmark. Eason could be seen in several defensive assignments like a 2-3, 1-3-1 and box-in-one zone. He has the athleticism to play any position in defense, but would be better suited for the wing or above the defensive set. His skill set allows him to be deadly in all aspects of defense. Eason’s 7’2” wingspan has become effective for him.
Smith will be excellent in defense against the ball, which should be his greatest strength. Opposing college players struggled to drive by Smith. His wingspan is also 7’2″ like Eason but Smith is still the taller of the two at 6’10”, and Smith’s father mentioned he wasn’t done growing during his press conference. of introduction.
The only thing Smith needs to improve is rim defense, as he’s only averaged one block per game. At 6’10”, that shouldn’t be a problem for him. Silas will likely position Smith as an auxiliary defender on defensive sets. This could give Smith better chances to play with the ball.
On another note, Smith could still be effective on the defensive wings, as a turning defender to stop pick-and-roll or intercept passing lanes. Either way, zone or man, Smith will create problems throughout the game. He’s averaging 2.1 steals per game per 100 possessions.
Although the Rockets passed Nikola Jovic earlier, they saw something special in Washington. Washington was considered a lottery pick at the start of the collated basketball season. As the season progressed, Washington began to slip for some odd reason, mostly injury issues.
From a distance, he seems less aggressive in attack. He has the ball handling skills to blow and attack defenders on offense. Washington is versatile in basketball and knows how to create chances for his teammates.
Over the course of the season, Washington averaged 12.5 points per game with shooting spreads of 45.1/35.0/75.0 percent. It has intriguing accuracy from the mid-range, which is 49.6%. Washington does a great job creating space off the dribble and back to find his shot. He knows how to take good shots, which could be mid-range shots when given the chance.
The only concern is can he become hesitant about when to attack on offense? There were times when John Calipari barked at Washington for being a spectator on the wing. Calipari wanted him to be the vocal point of attack, as that meant taking most of the shots. His utilization rate at Kentucky was 22.5 percent, which is low for a dynamic guard like him. Fortunately, the Rockets’ G-League team will be resourceful as it builds confidence with the Rio Grande Vipers. In addition, John Lucas will be in his corner with Mahmoud Abdelfattah.
Washington will be excellent on the wing and pick-in-roll. Hopefully he becomes a good iso player as well. He’ll have plenty of time to watch Kevin Porter Jr. and Daishen Nix facilitate the offense and learn when to score. Washington will eventually have an idea on how to handle the point guard position in the NBA.
As I talk about Eason and Smith, their offensive skills will be important for the Rockets. Silas can use their height inside or outside the paint, and both should come in handy in the pick-and-roll, pick-in-pop, and when transitioning.
Additionally, Silas would like to use Eason and Smith in various horn sets on offense. Smith already knows he’s good at spacing the floor with his shot. Last season at Auburn, Smith shot 42% three-ball, which makes him more lethal because he’s versatile with the basketball. Smith averaged 16.9 points per game while shooting 42.9 percent from the field.
Smith can do more than catch and shoot, as he can ground the ball for hard pulls or grabs to the rim. Silas will keep Smith out of the paint because he’s more effective out of it. Hopefully Smith becomes more dominant in the future by scoring from behind the basket. He will get stronger in the future, so his skills will develop in a good way.
Smith already knows Alperen Sengun is a good player and thinks his form would be explosive. Smith said:
“I think it will be a good fit, with just me spacing the floor. I think it will be really difficult to keep… We will give the teams problems and it will be great to build with him and the team.
Watching the 4-5 pick-and-roll between Sengun and Smith will be interesting, as it unbalances the opposing teams. The Rockets will have several big men who can shoot the ball from three.
Eason has an active engine in attack and defense, which caught the attention of Rafael Stone. Peter said:
“Its engine is exceptional.”
Eason dives on the floor, fights for loose balls, makes open shots and moves without the basketball. He’s also not afraid to drive by his defender for a dunk or layup to the rim. Eason averaged 16.9 points per game with 52.1/35.9/80.3 percent shooting spreads from the field. He’s a hard worker and a team player, which means he’ll set screens, charge and guard the opposing team’s best player when needed as well. Being a 6’9″ winger in today’s NBA is good for Eason because of his skill set.
Silas will have a plan in place for Washington, Smith and Eason to succeed on the Rockets. He wants to take full advantage of each player’s skills.