The Houston Rockets have been on a tear since inserting Greg Smith into the starting lineup and his presence thus far has been worth noting.
Houston is 5-1 since Greg Smith became the Rockets starting power forward and the second-year big man has been making the most of the opportunity. As a starter Smith has seen his minutes rise from 14.6 to 22.7, resulting in a scoring increase from 5.6 up to 10 per contest. Add in five rebounds and nearly 58% shooting in his role and it becomes clear Smith is the best option the Rockets have at the position heading into the post-season.
Smith’s impact has been more profound that just individual statistics. The team is scoring and defending much better and as Rockets’ reporter Jason Friedman points out, rebounding at a much higher clip.
With Smith in the starting line-up, the Rockets are cleaning up the offensive rebounds and gathering more than 30% of their missed shots, a number that would put them among the league’s best teams.
Having Smith in the lineup, rather than a traditional stretch for the Rockets love to employ, hasn’t affected the play of James Harden. Harden is shooting 49% from the floor with both Smith and center Omer Asik on the floor compared to 43% when Smith is replaced by a capable outside shooter in Donatas Motiejunas.
Greg Smith isn’t the piece that will bring Houston a title this year, or even in the future, but after having only played eight games in his rookie season (2011-12), the unheralded big man is proving he can be a solid piece for a winning team.
Robert White covers the Houston Rockets for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @RobertWhitebrrr.