Houston coach Kevin McHale, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
“They’ll determine that,” McHale said before a Rockets event on Tuesday to unveil three new alternate uniforms. “We’ll find out. Can we play them together? Maybe. We’ll put them out there. We had 28 days of camp. We’ll decide who will get the lion’s share of the minutes. One will and one will be a backup.”
First of all, Lawson must be sober and engaged for any of this to matter. If he’s not, there’s no competition. So, from here, we’ll assume he is.
I’d lean toward starting Beverley to maximize the percentage of his minutes he shares with James Harden. Beverley complements Harden well, because he’s the rare point guard who doesn’t need to dominate the ball to contribute. Beverley can put most of his energy into defense, and he spot up for 3-pointers on offense.
Lawson, more of a playmaker, brings a different dimension. He’s more capable of both scoring for himself and setting up teammates, which will be even more valuable when Harden sits. When Harden is on the court, the ball should usually go through him.
If Harden plays around the 37 minutes per game he saw last season, he’ll spend plenty of time with each point guard. Having a second backcourt threat on the floor with him wilt tilt defenses in new ways and take some of the burden off the MVP runner-up.
McHale, especially in the playoffs, should use his point guards based on matchups. They’re so different – an asset for Houston.
That’s why I’m surprised McHale indicated the starter will get “the lion’s share of the minutes.” Even though I’d probably start Beverley, I’d also probably play Lawson more. He’s, in a vacuum, a superior player.
Maybe the Rockets coach is just trying to motivate the players for training camp. McHale might already have more of a plan for these two than he’s letting on.