Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley will make his season debut against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday and he will be in the starting lineup, coach Mike D'Antoni said Wednesday, via ESPN's Calvin Watkins. Beverley missed the season's first 10 games because he had surgery on his left knee in late October.
In Beverley's absence, D'Antoni initially elected to start Eric Gordon next to James Harden in the backcourt. Last week, he replaced Gordon with Corey Brewer. On Monday against the Philadelphia 76ers, he went back to Gordon. Now that Beverley is back, there shouldn't be any more shuffling.
Beverley has always complemented James Harden well. He is one of the NBA's best when it comes to defending point guards, and he is an accurate spot-up shooter who doesn't need the ball in his hands all the time. Last season, he made a career-high 40 percent of his 3-pointers. Having him back in the lineup will help in a couple of significant ways:
- The second unit will be stronger with both Gordon and Brewer coming off the bench. Beverley is also capable of running the offense when Harden is out of the game. In the 107 minutes that Harden had been off the court this season, the Rockets have been outscored by 26 points per 100 possessions. That is disastrous.
- Houston's defense, ranked 22nd in the league, should improve when it comes to giving up penetration. While the Rockets have been dedicated to being better on that end this season, it has obviously missed Beverley's toughness and physicality on the perimeter.
The caveat here is that Beverley needs to be his best, quickest self to have a major impact on how Houston plays. As D'Antoni acknowledged on Tuesday, he will probably be rusty for about a week. After that, if there are lingering concerns about his knee, then the Rockets will still have a backcourt problem to solve.