Danuel House may have gone undrafted in 2016, but the Texas A&M product carries himself with the confidence of a high lottery pick. And as the Rockets look to take down LeBron James and the Lakers in round two, that bravado could come in handy.
House has emerged as a key piece of Houston's rotation after signing a three-year, $11 million deal in June 2019. He's averaging 11.4 points per game on a solid 35.8% from three in the 2020 playoffs, and perhaps more importantly, he's been an integral defender against LeBron James and Anthony Davis. House has the size and tools to become an impactful 3-and-D force. His head coach has no shortage of faith in the 6'6" forward.
“I think [House] is blossoming into one of the better players in the league,” Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said on Monday. "He’s playing with a lot of energy, athletically, making great decisions on defense and offense. … There’s no reason why he’s not one of the better players in the league.”
House's bravado is a good fit with D'Antoni and the Rockets. Houston's head coach often implores players to pull the trigger from beyond the arc, betting on his team's sheer three-point volume. Hesitation from three is the biggest sin in D'Antoni's offense. That's not a concern with House. He'll fire from three or plow into the lane nearly immediately off the catch, forcing defenses to continue their rotations after double-teaming James Harden.
House is perhaps the NBA's king of missed dunks, but he isn't exactly reckless. Houston's forward is growing as a playmaker by the week. He's flashing to the middle following Harden traps, often leading to open threes for his teammates. House remains an imperfect player, but he's an increasingly effective one. Perhaps he'll become a household name in the 2020 playoffs.
"I feel like I’m slept on, heavily. With a pillow and a blanket," House said on Tuesday. "My goal here was to hit the snooze button, and also come here and be prepared. ...I feel like I am one of the top two-way players in this league. Just got to continue to show it, and continue to play hard, night in and night out."
House remains a work in progress, and his confidence and ambition is sometimes counterproductive in key moments. Thinking you're the best player on the floor is often helpful. It's occasionally corrosive. But don't mistake House's external confidence for a lack of awareness. He knows superstardom isn't around the corner, and there remains a hierarchy in Houston's offense. For now, House's directive is simple: defend effectively, shoot the ball, and bring maniacal effort on both ends. That blueprint could make Houston's forward a household name in the 2020s.
"I'm here to bring some hardware home," House said. "Bring some hardware home, and everything will take care of itself."