Predicting the Starting 5 for Houston Rockets After the John Wall-Russell Westbrook Trade Saga

Published 12/03/2020, 5:45 AM EST
Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook (left) celebrates with guard James Harden (13) after dunking against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of game three in the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


The Houston Rockets come into the 2020-21 NBA season with heavy changes to their personnel. Not only did they lose their coach and General Manager this offseason, but they also traded their marquee point guard. Here’s a look at what the Rockets lineup looks like after swapping Russell Westbrook for John Wall.

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Houston Rockets Lineup

Rockets’ Backcourt

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There is no doubt that the Former Washington Wizards‘ number 1 pick is the floor general of this team, assuming that he stays fit. It’s been 24 months since he last featured in an NBA game. So there is some uncertainty around him in contrast to the durable Westbrook.

However, if he gets over his injuries, Wall will be a force to reckon with. Like Russell, he is a very athletic and agile point guard, though he is not quite at the level of the former league MVP. But what he lacks in comparison to him, he makes up for in better ball distribution and defensive play. The team will definitely be more interesting to watch this season.

Shooting Guard – James Harden

Harden is the face of this franchise. There is no question mark on Harden’s stature within the team. However, there are massive doubts about whether he wants to stay put in Houston or not. Assuming that he does, he will lead the team for another season in a very strong Western Conference. Another scoring title or even a league MVP may beckon ‘The Beard’.

Rockets’ Frontcourt

Center – DeMarcus Cousins

Cousins is yet another former All-Star coming off a long injury layover, and things can easily go south for the Rockets this season. They are putting all their eggs in the rehab basket. But make no mistake, Cousins can play at a top-level. He is a versatile big man and his addition bids goodbye to their infamous ‘small ball’ lineups.

Power Forward – PJ Tucker

At 35, there may be still some life in this old dog. A perennial starter, his 3-point shooting abilities are important for the team. And he should take to the court as a starter. Even though former Detroit Pistons‘ Christian Wood is waiting in the wings, the team should entrust Tucker from the start.

Small Forward – Danuel House Jr.

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Well, he has to build some trust with the team first after his Bubble fiasco. There won’t be a better way to atone for his mistakes than to come out and play hard.

DENVER, CO – NOVEMBER 20: James Harden (13) of the Houston Rockets bites his beard during the first quarter against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, November 20, 2019. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Can the Rockets contend for the title? If the injury-prone duo of Cousins and Wall stay healthy, they can. It is a very strong Western Conference this time around. One can only find out how this team comes together when the season starts.

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Bharat Aggarwal

754 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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