Listen to Doug Gottlieb explain why the Houston Rockets’ victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night was a massive win for modern basketball analytics, as the Rockets went with an unprecedented small ball lineup that did not feature a single player over 6’6” in the starting lineup.
To the surprise of many around the sport, Houston traded popular big man Clint Capela on Wednesday’s Trade Deadline, freeing themselves of one of the most talented energy players in the league who was averaging over 13 rebounds a game.
The Rockets felt like Capela was simply clogging the lane for their elite penetrating guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden, and didn’t feel like Capela’s skills around the rim were more valuable than having another outside shooter on the court.
Despite facing one of the most talented post players of all time in Anthony Davis, who finished the game with a rather effortless 32 points on 14/21 shooting, the Rockets overwhelmed Los Angeles with their three-point shooting (19-42), and the Lakers eventually began to get baited into bad possessions because of the awkwardness the Rockets defense presented in such small stature.
Check out the video above as Gottlieb details why Houston’s somewhat shocking victory was he type of litmus test that will define the next generation of basketball.