The shorthanded roster of the Houston Rockets was dealt another tough blow on Monday afternoon. Ahead of their game against the Memphis Grizzlies, it came to light that their injury report added center Clint Capela to it as well. Along with Capela, the Rockets are still without both Chris Paul and Eric Gordon and were already struggling with depth.
Houston enters this game with question marks across the roster, but have still managed to put together a 24-18 record to this point. Although they’ve gone 2-3 in their last five games, a stretch in which the Rockets won 11 of 12 has helped push them up the Western Conference standings.
The play of James Harden has been a huge reason for their success, as he’s scored 35 or more points in 14 of the past 17 games. But with Capela, who had been red-hot in his own right, now sidelined the Rockets roster is set to look quite a bit different. Let’s evaluate the team’s depth chart and roster for this game and also dive into the center’s injury outlook.
Rockets Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Grizzlies
*Notates expected starter
C: Nene Hilario*, Isaiah Hartenstein
PF: P.J. Tucker*, Marquese Chriss
SF: Danuel House*, James Ennis, Gary Clark
SG: Austin Rivers*, Gerald Green
PG: James Harden*, Brandon Knight (questionable)
The good news is that the Rockets opted to rest Nene for Sunday’s game, so he should be prepared to take on a decent-sized workload against the Grizzlies. It’ll likely be needed as the Grizzlies boast Marc Gasol, rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. and JaMychal Green inside.
Although it’s been a very limited sample size, the Rockets’ usage with Capela, Paul and Gordon sidelined is interesting and also tough to figure. James Harden has an absurd 48.4 usage rate while Austin Rivers’ usage goes from 14.6 to 17.5 and Danuel House jumps from 14.1 to 15.9. Along with that, Brandon Knight (very limited minutes) sees a boost in usage up to 23.7 from 21.3, per Basketball Monster.
There’s a good chance second-year big man Isaiah Hartenstein could see an expanded workload as well. Over 22 games, the 7-footer has averaged 8.1 minutes per game with 2.1 points and 1.6 rebounds per.
Latest on Clint Capela’s Injury
As Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle detailed, Capela is dealing with a right thumb injury and is set to be reevaluated today. His injury occurred on an alley-oop during the third quarter and he was able to play after.
It’s worth noting that Feigen stated Capela didn’t believe the injury was serious but has since been ruled out for this game. There’s obviously a chance that the Rockets are being cautious, but with the injuries piling up and the team short on players, there would be a strong argument for Capela playing if healthy enough.
UPDATE: As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed Capela will miss four to six weeks due to the thumb injury. The MRI on Monday revealed ligament damage, per Wojnarowski.
Along with the original report, the Houston Chronicle’s story on the Rockets game Sunday cited that Capela’s X-rays were inconclusive, so we’ll have to wait before finding out the severity.