The Rockets have got their starting five ready to go, and while all eyes will be on that, it's the flexibility of the bench units that provide intrigue.
The Rockets added PJ Tucker, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Tarik Black and Zhou Qi as pieces to join Eric Gordon and Nene off the bench. Each player seems to compliment each other nicely, with spacing and defensive versatility being the focuses.
You can assume Mike D'Antoni will ensure that Chris Paul and James Harden are never on the bench at the same time during a competitive game, which makes all of these bench units potent. Let's take a look at what D'Antoni can throw up.
The regular rotations
PF: Mbah a Moute
This looms as the regular bench unit. The scoring with either Paul or Harden, combined with Nene and Gordon will ensure that it's potent. Tucker and Mbah a Moute should hopefully be able to threaten enough from the corners to take some pressure off the offense. On the defensive end, it'll be hard to score against the wings, while Paul will disrupt the opposition's playmaker, Gordon should be able to hold his own, although the team may give up a few buckets if Harden and Nene are attacked in the pick and roll. Black may be an option to play alongside Nene instead if that happens.
The bomb squad
Any unit with Anderson, Harden, and Qi together is going to be weak defensively, but there's no denying quickly this line up can change a game in the space of a few minutes. Whether Qi can crack the rotation will depend on his shooting from behind the arc and whether he can hold his own defensively. D'Antoni may opt to put Tucker in there instead of Qi for a bit more balance.
Ball handler: Paul
Wings: Ariza, Mbah a Moute, Tucker
Big man: Capela
This is perhaps the scariest lineup the Rockets can put out against teams like Cleveland, Boston, and the Warriors. It's a testament to Brad Stevens' squad-view of less fixed positions. Every player on the floor has the strength to switch at any given time. Teams may try to expose the lack of speed from the wings, but the length of this line up will surely cause issues. Paul would have to do the bulk of the scoring, and as such adding Gordon to the wing mix could provide more balance.
Essentially subbing out rim protection for more shooting in the starting line up, we could see this line up pretty often in the regular season. This one suits the D'Antoni game style perfectly and the threat of Gordon and Ariza wide open from the corners is frightening. At the very least, this line up would be great to play with in 2k.