Rockets explain why the value of PJ Tucker goes beyond statistics

Going solely by statistics, veteran forward PJ Tucker is having his worst season of four years with the Rockets. The 35-year-old is averaging fewer points (5.3) and rebounds (4.6) than in any of his prior Houston seasons, and his net rating and defensive rating are last among rotation players.

But the Rockets (9-9), who are currently on a season-best winning streak of five games, contend that Tucker’s value is hard to quantify. In recent days, Stephen Silas and several veteran players addressed the subject.

John Wall, from Saturday’s postgame availability:

PJ may not show up in the stat sheets, but all of the stuff he does and communicating on the defensive end and taking that challenge, that’s a guy you want to have on your team.

Some people [say] ‘Look, why is he getting all of these minutes? He’s not scoring.’ It doesn’t matter. What he does for our team is what we need, and he has that veteran presence to take the challenge against anybody, battling and getting rebounds. If he gets five shots or zero shots, he’s still gonna be that same guy, and that’s what you appreciate about a guy like him.

Eric Gordon, following Sunday’s practice:

No question, everybody needs a PJ Tucker on every team. We’re lucky to have him. People forget the value of a player, he elevates our team. He does a lot of things that don’t create stuff on the stat sheet. You can have stats and odn’t bring value to a team. He brings that quality. It’s all about elevating your team to wins, and doing what it takes to win.

Victor Oladipo, also after Sunday’s practice:

PJ Tucker is a rarity. One of those special players that goes unnoticed, because he does the small things so very well. We notice it. I definitely notice it.We needed him to win these last five games.

We’re gonna continue to need him if we want to win at a very high level. The small things he does don’t show up on the stat sheet, but if you are a true fan of the game and you truly watch the game, you’ll see his impact on both ends. … And he’s a great person, too. It’s really dope to be his teammate.

Stephen Silas, before Saturday’s game:

First of all, he’s an ultimate professional. He’ll do whatever it takes to win. [He is] a leader on this team that everybody listens to.

On the offensive end, he’s one of our best screeners. He has a knack for creating action for others and making it to where others can play really well while he’s on the floor. He spaces well to the corners and makes it hard on his man, as far as help situations, is he going to go help, or is he going to stay attached to PJ for the corner three.

And then on the defensive end, he’s the guy who’s doing all the talking. He’s the guy who makes sure everyone is organized. He’s the main communicator on the floor. He can switch on smaller guys, he can defend bigger guys in the post. You’re not going to see any of that in the stats, but he’s such an important piece to what we do.

The Rockets derive further benefits from Tucker’s extreme durability. The 6-foot-5 forward is the only Houston player to start in every game this season, and he hasn’t missed any regular-season or playoff game since signing with the Rockets in July 2017. Dating to 2012-13, Tucker has played in the most games of any NBA player on any team.

He’s also a respected veteran leader in the Houston locker room, as shown by the kind words from his teammates and coaches.

With Tucker in the starting lineup, Houston (9-9) returns to action on Monday night with a road game at Oklahoma City (8-10). Tipoff between the Rockets and Thunder is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Central.


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