Rockets remain undecided on starter at power forward

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest lineup questions for Houston remains unanswered. The time to name a starting power forward nears for coach Kevin McHale.

The Houston Rockets will trot out one of the best lineups in the Western Conference, loaded with star power in James Harden and Dwight Howard, but there's still the question of who starts at power forward. Head coach Kevin McHale, not dry for options, might go into the season "with different lineups for different opponents," according to the Houston Chronicle.

Two second-year players, Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones, have both ran beside Dwight Howard in the preseason. While Motiejunas and Jones have shown they are capable offensively, neither player has picked up basic defensive mechanics and positioning.

The 6'9 forward Omri Casspi, who was signed to a two-year, $2 million deal this offseason, is averaging 14 points on 61.1 percent shooting this preseason and might be an option as a stretch-four. There are questions of whether Casspi can match the size of bigger power forwards inside but he should be able to defend smaller forwards on the perimeter.

"It's my first two, three weeks playing power forward, and I'm loving every second of it," Casspi said. "I'm still adjusting defensively. We have so many good help-side defenders like Dwight (Howard) and Omer (Asik). They're going to help me. It makes things a lot easier."

Another option is a pairing of Howard and Omer Asik. The combination would dominate the boards and help stop outside penetration, but it might struggle defending mobile power forwards out to the three-point line. There are also spacing issues offensively as neither big man is much of a threat from outside the paint.

At this point, the Rockets have a few more preseason games to figure out their lineup and coach McHale is excited about the stable of options he has at his disposal.

"Eventually somebody will (take it)," McHale said. "We have a lot of guys who have a lot of different skills. They'll determine that."

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