Daniel Theis is a new addition to the Houston Rockets, agreeing to a four-year contract worth $36 million back in August. Theis spent the first seven years of his career playing in Germany, his place of birth, before signing to a deal with the Boston Celtics in 2017. The German product was traded from Boston to the Chicago Bulls last season, but ultimately chose Houston as his new home during free agency.
At 29 years old, Theis brings veteran leadership to Houston’s young roster. Various rookies have already started to come to the center for advice. Stand-out rookie Jalen Green had this to say about his relationship with Theis:
“I talk to him all the time. I look at him as my big bro already. He is just giving me advice off the pick-and-roll and how to come off it. He just has so much knowledge. The Celtics were a great team. He helped Jayson Tatum and Jaylon Brown get paid, so he just giving me all of these tools.”
This mentor-like role is new for the big man, as he spent the beginning of his NBA career in the shadow of Al Horford and Aron Baynes. On a Rockets roster that once lacked defensive depth, his presence will be much more valuable too.
As a European native, the big man can also resonate with international newcomers, including Alperen Sengun and Usman Garaba. The two rookies will ultimately be competing against Theis for minutes, since Christian Wood’s starting spot is set in stone.
Experts predict Coach Stephen Silas will be starting Theis for the foreseeable future, though this dynamic shouldn’t cause any tension. In recent seasons, Theis has been allocated 25 minutes of playing time per game.
Theis’ defensive skills will help rejuvenate a weak backcourt. He is known for being a hardy defender, primarily focused on setting screens and snatching rebounds. At 6’8”, there are various NBA centers with a size advantage over Theis, though he’s not afraid to stay underneath the basket and absorb a few flying elbows.
Here is what Theis had to say about his expectations for the upcoming season:
I can be a defensive anchor. Like in Boston or in Chicago a little bit, the center always sees everything. Like in pick-and-roll, I’ve got to be vocal. I’ve got to be loud and protect my teammates. Mistakes are going to happen. For me, just be there, help my teammates out.
In terms of productivity, Theis has averaged 9.4 points (55.3% FG, 32.7% on three-pointers) and 6 rebounds over the last two seasons. His stats don’t currently indicate NBA All-Star potential, but his contributions to the team will be important nonetheless.
After Christian Wood’s ankle injury back in February, the Rockets completely tanked. What Theis can do is add this essential layer of protection, which Houston lacked with Wood out of the picture.
Overall, expect Houston’s new addition to continue to improve and make key stops throughout the 2021-2022 NBA season.