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Rockets 2022-2023 player previews: TyTy Washington Jr. vs Daishen Nix

Who will be the backup point guard for the Rockets this season?

Houston Rockets Media Day
Big Plans For Everyone!
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Welcome to Houston Rockets Fiiiiiiight Niiiiiight!

In the Ketchup Corner, a nearly 21-year-old guard, standing 6’3” tall, weighing 197 pounds, from the University of Kentucky Guard Factory, it’s TyTy Washington Jr.!

In the Mustard Corner, a nearly 21-year-old guard, standing 6’5”, weight 225 pounds, from Anchorage, Alaska, and The Rio Grande Valley Vipers of Edinburgh, Texas, it’s Daishen Nixxxxxxxx!

What? This isn’t a fight? It’s not going to be some sort bizarrely vituperative battle between fans of the same team on this website all season long? Why not call it that way, and be done with it?

People seem to have Very Strong Opinions about players we haven’t seen play much NBA basketball. We saw TyTy and Daishen in Vegas Summer League, and while both showed flashes, neither blew our socks off. TyTy had a higher baseline, Nix showed both a low floor and a high ceiling. Same thing for the Rockets dismantling of a woeful and injured Spurs team in the first pre-season game. What did we learn? That the Spurs are pure gristle, though they were missing Keldon Johnson, who is better than you think, but not as good as the Spurs think, and Josh Primo, who is talented, and roughly 10 years from his prime.

(The Rockets didn’t lose to the Australian NBL’s Adelaide 36ers, though! Nope, that honor went to the Phoenix Suns, who could not stop one of the hottest shooting performances I’ve ever seen. The 36ers shot 56 percetn from three-point range on 43 attempts. The Rockets got JaeSean Tate from Australia, they really might ought to look into Robert Franks, 6’7”, 225, shot 6-10 from three, and Craig Randall... Wait, the Rockets have too many players to develop already. Still, are we sure Garry Bird is better than Bobby Franks? Are we?)

Anyway. TyTy and Nix. Fight night!

First off, maybe it shouldn’t be a fight? These are two very different players. TyTy is the modern version of The Pure Point Guard. Nix is some sort of Hardenesque beast, with a slight flaw in his game...

TyTy has said he patterned much of his game on Chris Paul, you can see it when he plays. He’s a clever player, who knows he doesn’t have elite size or athleticism, but he does have excellent vision, long arms and a sense of timing, as to when to speed up or slow down. He scores when it’s needed, rather than a first option. CP3 is a first ballot HoF player. There are worse role models for point guards.

Washington was initially considered a lottery pick at guard, but his season was marred by injury and perhaps an ill-advised return from said injury. Consider - Shaedon Sharpe did literally nothing, sat out with injury and got drafted number six overall by Portland for basically being promising in high school and doing nothing else at all.

TyTy played through pain to support the largely appalling Kentucky Wildcat program and played well for a guy playing hurt. If he’d just shut down early on, he’d probably have been picked in the lottery. He didn’t, he played. His misfortune was the Rockets’ good fortune. TyTy’s pre-injury stats were very good, and he was selected 29th.

Nix is a point guard of a different sort. He’ll pass, but he’s a lot more like James Harden in that what he really wants to do is truck by, over and through defenses to the basket. And therein lies the reason the Rockets could just sign him, rather than draft him. James Harden offered a Devil’s bargain on drives: let him score, let him shoot free throws that he will make or let him do both.

Nix? Onay onyay ethay eefray owsthray. That’s right, he’s Pig Latin James Harden at this point. He’ll smash, he’ll crash and he’ll absolutely clank his free throws. He’s shooting 60 percent from the charity stripe. That’s “Bad Free Throw Shooting Center” territory.

That’s not going to work long term. Nix is a good assist man, averaging 7.6 per game for the Vipers along with 6 rebounds and 2 steals. He did score 20 points per game as well. So there’s something there.

Both players should get ample opportunity. Nix is an NBA regular if he can make his free throws. TyTy could at least be a high quality backup, and maybe more, if he can guard his position, shoot it from deep and continue to Be Like Chris.

This season should tell the story of who wins the first of what could be a series of bouts.


Who ya got?

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