Nene Hilario - Not a huge injury, but Nene Hilario is a backup center option that often comes in when Clint Capela is in need of rest. They have some other options, but Capela is not a huge minutes eater, playing under 30 last night. Nene is well into his 30’s, and time is ticking for him, but he does provide about 15-20 minutes a night to give Houston some depth. If he misses time to start the season, you are looking at a gap to fill in.
Brandon Knight - Brandon Knight had knee surgery back when he was in Phoenix, and while he has recovered from it, he is battling an infection from the surgery. Knight is in no immediate need for Houston, but if he comes back healthy, he would be an excellent option behind Chris Paul, and also a nice insurance plan because of Paul’s injury history. Knight won’t be back any time soon, but keep an eye on his recovery.
Yao Ming is definitely one of the bigger what ifs for the Rockets, but also in the overall NBA. Ming was a huge seven foot center, and dominated on both sides of the ball. Ming had a few fractures to his ankles and legs, including three to his left leg. Ming just could not stay healthy, and his overall size might have had something to do with it. His career was cut way too short, but when healthy his best seasons were averaging over 20 points and 10 boards. He also averaged 1.9 blocks per game in his career. Hakeem Olajuwon was a pretty sturdy player, but he begun to wear down towards the end of his career, and that was barely entering the 2000 season, so he played quite a long time.
Tracy McGrady would continuously battle ankle sprains and McGrady was someone you could argue if only he stayed healthy at times. Kevin Martin played with Houston for a while, but had a lot of seasons where he was hindered by injuries. He had a pretty nasty shoulder sprain in 2012, which led him to miss most of the second half. You might have forgotten that Kyle Lowry played in Houston, but he had a few tough injuries to play through, including a hernia back in 2012. In 2014, Patrick Beverley was having a strong season, and then tore his meniscus. Beverley is was a big time defensive presence, and his absence for the Rockets was huge. Clint Capela had a fractured fibula in 2016, but has shown no ill effects of the injury, and is playing well. Houston still makes sure to not overload his minutes, but that seems to be more of a conditioning circumstance.
One of the more timely injuries of late for Houston was the hamstring injury to Chris Paul in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors. Paul ended up missing the rest of the series, and the Warriors went onto win the series. This just further added to Paul’s injury concerns.