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Why the summer Rockets may consider experimenting with more Tyty Washington usage

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We are three games into the five-game Las Vegas summer league, and the young Houston Rockets are in the middle of what has to be described as a successful campaign. The team is 2-1, most recently with victories over the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.

The 2022 first-round rookies have come exactly as advertised. Jabari Smith Jr. has flashed elite defensive potential, Tari Eason has been explosive and scrappy on both ends of the floor, and TyTy Washington looks like the balanced guard Houston hoped for when they drafted him.

In addition to the rookies, much of the group’s scoring and narratives have come from their second-year guards. Specifically, that’s 2021 first-round draft pick Josh Christopher and 2021 undrafted free agent Daishen Nix. Christopher has served as the team’s alpha engine on the offensive end, and Nix has started at point guard in all three contests.

With only two games left, it may be time to wonder if Houston should shut down their “veteran” guards in one or both of their last two games, starting Thursday versus Portland. It can be argued that they’ve seen everything needed from both Nix and Christopher, and teams often sit veterans late in summer league to guard against potential injuries.

Christopher has shown a diverse offensive skillset and aggression that could be pivotal on the team’s second unit during this upcoming season. Nix, after a slow start in the summer opener, has used his basketball IQ and patience at the point guard position to bring out the best from Smith while making the offensive a more cohesive unit. Both players scored 18 points, and Nix chipped in 6 assists during Monday’s victory.

As summer league winds down, this could be an interesting time to see what other guards have to offer in a low-stakes situation.

Washington, in particular, could be the benefactor of less infrastructure at the guard positions. He’s flashed excellent vision, along with a quickness that allows him to attack the paint easily when the court is properly spaced. The vacuum created from the loss of Nix or Christopher would not only give the coaching staff time to see these skills in a more featured role, but it could present an opportunity to Washington to further display what kind of talent he’s bringing to the NBA level.

Washington is already showing excellent chemistry with his fellow first rounders off the court. It feels only deserving that Washington sees every opportunity to flash that same talent in competition.

There are, of course, arguments against it.

Houston is finally winning some games here in the summer league, and there’s certainly a thought it may be best to leave the formula alone. Confidence is pivotal in young players, and the coaching staff may believe that the continued development of Nix and Christopher is a greater priority than anyone behind them on the depth chart.

After all, they’re both guaranteed to be factors in the Rockets upcoming regular season campaign. The depth chart at guard on the current roster, beyond Washington, is promised essentially nothing.

In addition to their own development, it’s hard to argue that Nix isn’t aiding in the development of Houston’s wing players. Smith, in particular, looked at his best on Tuesday when Nix was taking time to find him in the right spots on the court and allowing sets to develop that most benefited him. Elsewhere, Christopher’s volume on the offensive end is allowing players like Tari Eason better 3-point looks, along with more energy to spend on defense and second-chance offensive baskets.

Ultimately, this is a good problem to have for Houston. Their second-year players have shown development and are capitalizing against the inexperienced summer competition. Now, they just have to decide what’s best for the development of the group and the team at large.

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