When Rockets traded Clint Capela and in the opposite direction came Robert Convington, many NBA fans scratched their heads. Swiss center was the primary rim protector averaging 1.8 BPG, and many taught that their interior defense would suffer.
Currently, Rockets are 10-3 while playing in 6’7″ and less starting five, they are game behind the Clippers in current standings. Robert Covington is one of the main reasons why Houston can play this way. He has 3+ blocks in the last six games during this streak, which is something Clint Capela has never done while in Houston.
Houston’s switch-heavy defense and quick weak side help enabled Covington to use his athleticism and become the shot-blocking machine. He was a perfect fit for a team that plays high paced basketball and loves small-ball units. During his entire career, Convington was considered an excellent 3D player, but now he is in a different setup. For a player averaging 0.9 BPG for his career, this is quite surprising. He is sneaky and uses his quickness off the flor to block opposing player’s shots. As the primer shot blocker, he excelled and showed the fans that we view him unfairly to a certain degree.
The last player in Rockets history to do something like that is Hakeem Olajuwon, which is something Convington should be especially proud of. Also, an interesting fact, as the tallest player in Rockets starting five Convingtons RPG number grew too, he jumped from 6 in Timberwolves to 7.9 with the Rockets.
Since the trade, starting center for the Rockets is PJ Tucker, who is standing 6’5″ short even for today’s small-ball standards. They are utilizing the sheer physical strength of their players since not a lot of guards are physically imposing as the duo of Harden and Westbrook. On the wing, Convington, Tucker, and House are quick and strong enough to switch on guards and take care of any interior threat. This change in the game plan allowed Rockets to dismiss the old doctrine that big and robust center is the pillar of the team.
Houston as a team has improved, and they are currently 3rd in the defensive rating and tied with the Bucks in W%. With awoken Russel Westbrook, Houston is a tough matchup for any team. Houston usually improves their performance as the regular season comes to an end, so we’ll probably see them securing home floor advantage for the playoffs.
RoCo is anchoring the paint, and Houston became a much dangerous team with him. We know a couple of games can’t show the full picture, but opposing coaches are for sure, taking into consideration the threat of Houston’s small-ball starting five.