Coach Silas has some interesting decisions to make for his rookies.


With the season just around the corner for the Houston Rockets, it’s time to find a sweet spot for Jabari Smith, TyTy Washington and Tari Eason on offense and defense. Every player is gifted with length and athleticism, as the Rockets need those talented attributes. These players can contribute on offense and defense. Getting Smith, Washington and Eason in the right spots is important to their success on the Rockets.

Smith and Eason can guard one to five throughout the game on defense. Stephen Silas mentioned that he was already on his laptop figuring out the best spots for those two on defense. Watching clips of Eason and Smith on defense in college just got interesting. They can both stay in front of their man on defense because of the lateral quickness each player has. Smith and Eason also have great defensive IQs.

Eason does an amazing job of having active hands on the passing lanes, which includes being a nuisance while playing defense on the ball. At LSU, Eason averaged 1.9 steals per game, which is as unbelievable as his most/least defensive (5.7) per basketball benchmark. Eason could be seen in multiple defensive assignments such as a 2-3 zone, 1-3-1 and box-in-one. He has the athleticism to play any position on defense, but would be better suited on the wing or at the top of the defensive set. His skill set allows him to be deadly in all aspects of defense. Eason’s 7’2” wingspan has become effective for him.


Smith will be excellent on the ball defense, which should be his greatest strength. Rival players in college had a hard time driving for Smith. His wingspan is also 7’2” like Eason, but Smith is still the taller of the two at 6’10”, and Smith’s father mentioned that he is not done growing during his introductory press conference. .

The only thing Smith needs to improve on is rim defense, as he only averaged 1 block per game. At 6’10”, it shouldn’t be a problem for him. Silas will likely position Smith as a help-side defender in defensive sets. This could provide better opportunities for Smith to make a play with the ball.

On another note, Smith could still be effective at defensive ends, as a pivoting defender to stop the pick-and-roll or intercept passing lanes. Either way, zone or man, Smith will create problems throughout the game. He averaged 2.1 steals per game per 100 possessions.

Though the Rockets have run over Nikola Jovic before, they saw something special in Washington. Washington was seen as a lottery pick in the early part of the college basketball season. As the season progressed, Washington began to slip for a strange reason, mainly injury concerns.

In a distant opinion, it seems less aggressive in attack. He has the ball handling skills to pass and attack defenders on offense. Washington is versatile with basketball and knows how to create opportunities for his teammates.

During the season, Washington averaged 12.5 points per game with shooting splits of 45.1/35.0/75.0 percent. He has an intriguing accuracy from mid-range, which is 49.6 percent. Washington does a great job of creating space off the dribble and stepping back to find his shot. He knows how to hit the right shots, which can be mid-range shots when given the opportunity.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round: Saint Peters vs. Kentucky

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The only concern is that he may hesitate when to attack on offense? There were times when John Calipari barked at Washington for being a spectator on the wing. Calipari wanted him to be the vocal point of the offense, since that meant taking most of the shots. His usage rate at Kentucky was 22.5 percent, which is low for a dynamic guard like him. Fortunately, the Rockets’ G-League team will be resourceful as they build trust with the Rio Grande Vipers. Also, John Lucas will be in his corner along with Mahmoud Abdelfattah.

Washington will be excellent on the wings and on the pick-in-roll. Hopefully he becomes a good iso player too. He’ll have plenty of time to watch Kevin Porter Jr. and Daishen Nix facilitate the offense and learn when to score. Washington will eventually have an idea on how to manage the NBA point guard position.

While I get back to Eason and Smith, their offensive skill set will be important to the Rockets. Silas can use his height to advantage in or out of the paint, and both should be useful in pick-and-roll, pick-in-pop and transition as well.

Also, Silas would love to use Eason and Smith in various cuckolding games on offense. Smith already knows that he is good at spacing the floor with his shots. Last season at Auburn, Smith shot three balls at 42 percent, which makes him more deadly because he’s versatile with the basketball. Smith averaged 16.9 points per game and shot 42.9 percent from the field.

Smith can do more than catch and shoot, as he can put the ball down for pull-ups or hard shots to the rim. Silas will keep Smith out of the paint because he’s more effective out of it. Hopefully, Smith becomes more dominant in the future by scoring with his back to the basket. He will get stronger in the future, so his skill set develops in the right way.

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Loyola-Chicago

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Smith already knows that Alperen Sengun is a good player and thinks his fit would be explosive. Smith said:

“I think it will fit in really well, just me spacing out the court. I think it will be very difficult to score… We will give the teams problems and it will be great to build with him and the team.”

Watching the 4-5 pick-and-roll between Sengun and Smith will be interesting as it takes opposing teams off balance. The Rockets will have multiple big men who can shoot the ball from three.

Eason has an active engine on offense and defense, as that caught Rafael Stone’s attention. stone said:

“His engine is exceptional.”

Syndication: Diario Sentinel

Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK

Eason drops to the ground, fights for fumbles, makes open shots and moves without the basketball. He’s not afraid to push his defender for a dunk or layup to the rim as well. Eason averaged 16.9 points per game with shooting splits of 52.1/35.9/80.3 percent from the field. He is a hard-working and team-first player, which means he will screen, charge and protect the opposing team’s best player if needed. Being a 6’9” small forward in today’s NBA is a good thing for Eason because of his skill set.

Silas will have a plan for Washington, Smith and Eason to succeed on the Rockets. He wants to make the most of each player’s skill set.