Golden State Warriors should replicate Rockets’ small-ball lineup

The Houston Rockets have pushed the Golden State Warriors small-ball style to a new level. Should the Dubs follow their footsteps?

The Golden State Warriors didn’t invent small-ball – but they did popularize it. The patented ‘death-lineup’ featuring Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, (Harrison Barnes/Kevin Durant), Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green brought the Warriors to the top of the food chain and has since been copied across the league.

One team, in particular, the Houston Rockets, has spent years attempting to recreate the magic in Golden State. Led by the former coach of the run-and-gun Phoenix Suns, Mike D’Antoni, the Rockets have been unable to replicate the Warriors brand of basketball to the same degree of success. That is, however, until recently.

The Rockets finally realized that while James Harden might be one of the best scorers in league history – he is no Stephen Curry. Furthermore, he doesn’t have a Klay Thompson type player running alongside him. This gap in their lineup forced the Rockets to fully commit to the idea of small-ball, trading Clint Capela and promoting 6’5″ P.J. Tucker to starting center.

The goal: Outscore opponents by any means necessary. Sure, they might get pounded in the paint and beat on the glass – but 3-points are worth more than 2. The Rockets have put all of their attention on offense while still skating by defensively due to the big-dog mentality of Tucker, Robert Covington and Danuel House.

Houston notched a big victory over the Milwaukee Bucks and have jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder, even without Russell Westbrook suiting up. It seems this brand of basketball might be the next step in the evolution of this style.

The Warriors have a perfect core to take this brand of basketball and do it even better. If they choose to draft another shot creator in the draft like LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards, they can run a three-guard lineup with Andrew Wiggins, Eric Paschall and Draymond Green rotating in the frontcourt. This undersized lineup would be vulnerable on defense but would score a ton of points each night.

It’s uncertain how far the Rockets will go in the postseason or if the Dubs are interested in switching up the system that made them champions. Nonetheless, it would certainly be fun to watch them experiment with a smaller lineup.