Danuel House Jr.
History: Media Day 2019. Danuel House Jr. had a sense of peace as he talked to reporters about the upcoming 2019-20 season. No longer playing under the pressure of a two-way contract, House expressed his excitement to play an entire campaign with the Houston Rockets. A season that started full of promise instantly derailed off track. House’s year prior to the pandemic mirrors the narrative of the NBA as a whole.
The Houston native began the year fulfilling the Rockets’ desire for a Three-and-D player. While average 12.4 points, House established himself as a solid perimeter defender shooting 44.4% from behind the arc through his first 14 games of the season. By the All-Star break, however, House’s on-court performance took a slight decline. He struggled with his three-point shot, shooting 34.6% from behind the arc, while averaging 9.9 points per game.
During Houston’s final’s three games prior to the league’s suspension on March 11, House averaged 4.3 points while connecting on 16.6% of his shots from the outside.
Perhaps a reoccurring shoulder injury was the result for his diminished on-court production. He played hurt the bulk of the season and only sat out six of the possible 64 games.
With 17 weeks off, players once injured during the season are now healthy. Bucks’ star Giannis Antetokounmpo is the poster child of wounded warriors entering the NBA bubble in good physical condition, but House may have the most significant impact for a player now healthy.
“This is going to be my first real start to the season. I’m comfortable. My mind is at ease. [I am] just going out there to play while giving it my all.” — House, Media Day.
Outlook: A healthy House gives Mike D’Antoni a chance to present his best rotation against his opponents. With House inserted into the starting line-up alongside P.J. Tucker, Robert Covington, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, the Rockets average an offensive net rating of 111.3. Their most successful line-up since committing to small-ball is also one of their best defensive lineups — averaging a 100.6 defensive net rating.
In addition to providing D’Antoni his most dependable rotation, a healthy House also grants the Rockets with their best second unit. When the Texans A&M prodigy is coming off the bench, it forces D’Antoni to start Eric Gordon at small forward. Although inserting Gordon into the lineup is Houston’s best defensive rotation (92.9 DEFRTG), the Rockets’ offense takes a tremendous dip (100 OFFRTG) without House.
When given the nod to start, House’s numbers showcase an increase in his morale. He is averaging 10.6 points shooting 43.6% from the field and 36.9% from the outside in the 47 games played as a starter. In comparison to the 11 games played as a reserve, House has averaged 8.7 points on 39.7% shooting from the floor, 33.9% from the outside.
Despite an injury-riddled season, the NBA restart will present House with an opportunity to recapture the sense of peace and excitement he displayed inside The Post Oak Hotel on Media Day in late-September. It was the place where House confessed that his offseason was filled with regrets, as he allowed a toe injury to hinder his production during the Rockets’ post-season run in 2019.
Perhaps an additional 119 days of rest may have been just enough to prevent House from a deja vu experience in 2020 — this time due to an injured shoulder.