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Evaluating the Houston Rockets at the All-Star Break

We examine the Rockets going into the All-Star Break, looking at some futures betting lines, injuries and one player to watch in fantasy basketball.

Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook shakes hands with guard James Harden and guard Eric Gordon during the second quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at Toyota Center.  Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Trade Deadline and All-Star Weekend have come and gone, so that means we’re in the home stretch of the 2019-20 NBA season. In this serious post-All-Star Break, we’ll go over the outlook for every team in the NBA. Here, we’ll provide a short glimpse at championship odds and playoff chances for each team. Also highlighted are key injuries to note and a fantasy basketball player to watch the rest of the season.

Where do the Houston Rockets stand at the All-Star Break?

Record: 34-20
Playoff Chances: 100%
Championship Odds: +1600
Division Odds: -200
Conference Championship winner: +650
MVP Odds, James Harden: +800
6th Man of the Year, Eric Gordon: +10000

The Rockets have redefined the term “Small Ball” and then some. Since shipping out Clint Capela to the Hawks at the deadline and bringing in Robert Covington, the Rockets are rolling out lineups with nobody over 6-foot-7 — which is a generous listing for Covington. The Rockets have seen mixed results in four games, defeating the Lakers and Celtics, but also dropping games to the Suns and Jazz.

The Rockets will use this small ball tactic the rest of the season, trying to fend off the Thunder, Mavericks and Grizzlies for the No. 5 seed in the West, while trying to overtake the Jazz and Clippers in seeding. The James Harden-Russell Westbrook experiment has worked out so far, the two combining to averaging 62.5 points per game, more than half of Houston’s offense. But will The Beard and Russ be enough to overcome the Rockets’ lack of size? It’s one thing to get a big win here or there, but another animal to do it over the course of a seven-game series.

Prediction: Rockets miss out on a top 4 seed and have an early playoff exit.

Key Injuries for Houston Rockets

Eric Gordon, SG (shin) — DTD
Bruno Caboclo, C (knee) — DTD

Gordon missed the last two games before the All-Star break due to shin splints. It seems the games off were just additional rest for Gordon to get right for the stretch run. Other than Gordon, the Rockets aren’t dealing with anything major injury-wise in the lineup. Russell Westbrook and James Harden have missed some games this season, but nothing major. Westbrook should continue to rest on back-to-back sets, and we could see a similar scenario with Harden depending on where Houston is in the standings.

Fantasy basketball spotlight: Danuel House Jr.

Just because House is listed as a SG/SF doesn’t mean that’s the position he’ll be playing. Despite all the Small Ball, House is one of the bigger players in Houston’s rotation and will need to play minutes at the 4 and the 5. Because of the short rotation, there are plenty of times in which House is asked to play huge minutes. House has played 40+ minutes in three of nine games prior to the break and that type of playing time can’t be ignored. Any injuries to Covington or P.J. Tucker and House is playing 36-40 minutes per game in a fast-paced offense that emphasizes the 3-ball. House is shooting a respectable 37.5% from distance, another good source of 3-pointers in deeper leagues.

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