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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Ben DuBose

Report: Once Rockets are healthy, Garrison Mathews, Armoni Brooks to play off bench

Young sharpshooters Armoni Brooks and especially Garrison Mathews have become feel-good stories for the Rockets. With both taking on increasingly larger roles amid widespread roster injuries, Houston (9-18) entered Wednesday with wins in eight of its last 10 games, overall.

But in a season that is primarily about player development for a longer-term rebuilding plan, both Mathews and Brooks appear unlikely to retain their current starting roles once those injured players return.

Per beat writer Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

When the starting guards return, with Jalen Green closer than Kevin Porter Jr., (head coach) Stephen Silas said they will still start, with Mathews and Brooks brought off the bench to provide shooting ideal for Alperen Sengun’s passing with the second unit.

The logic is simple and fairly understandable. Along with Sengun, Green and Porter are two of the three most important developmental pieces in the organization. Even if Mathews and Brooks might offer more efficiency in the short-term, Houston is prioritizing long-term growth for its highest-upside players. This is consistent with the team’s offseason decision not to play veteran John Wall at the minutes he desires.

With 26-year-olds Christian Wood and Jae’Sean Tate locked into starting spots in the frontcourt, that only leaves one remaining spot in the starting lineup. Right now, that is owned by Eric Gordon, who has arguably been Houston’s best two-way player this season and is viewed as the type of veteran that makes the game easier for the development and growth of young players around him (like Green and Porter).

It’s certainly possible that Gordon could be dealt to a title contender before the NBA’s Feb. 10 trade deadline for the 2021-22 season. In that case, another starting spot might open up for the likes of Mathews or Brooks. But until then, it appears that both will play off the bench when the usual starting backcourt returns, and perhaps the impressive passing of Sengun could get them even better 3-point looks with the second unit.

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