The Sixers desperately needed to improve their wing rotation this offseason, and it didn’t take them long to do so. P.J. Tucker will help address a variety of weaknesses. De’Anthony Melton brings quality two-way play and the ability to switch up and play the 3 at times.
Then there’s Danuel House Jr, who agreed to a two-year, $8.5 million deal with Philadelphia in the opening minutes of free agency. The 6-foot-6, 29-year-old wing has plenty of history with Daryl Morey and James Harden from his years with the Rockets from 2018 to 2021, when House emerged as a valuable rotation piece. Following 2019-20, House’s impact dropped somewhat. He missed a lot of time in 2020-21 with injuries, before getting waived by Houston in December 2021 and signing a 10-day contract with New York.
But House found a home with Utah in January for the end of last season and played his best basketball in some time, demonstrating what he’s capable of and why he was a good target for the Sixers this summer.
Offensively, House’s role will be simple. The Sixers primarily need him to spot up, and make the occasional cut and drive past closeouts to help keep the offense moving. House is a limited offensive player, but he’s capable of doing just that.
The vast majority of House’s field goal attempts from two-point range and from three have been assisted throughout his career (69.1 percent and 91.1 percent, respectively) and he barely attempts anything from mid-range. He can’t do much off the dribble but he mostly plays to his strengths, taking the bulk of his shots from three (accounting for 62.2 percent of his field goal attempts over his career) and at the rim (24.2 percent of his attempts). Not needing to handle the ball much at all in a talented Sixers offense should help House succeed in a controlled role.
House’s jumper was on point to end last season with Utah. In his 25 regular season games there, he made 41.5 percent of his threes on the small sample of 82 total attempts (six per 36 minutes). His shooting profile was simplified somewhat with the Jazz, as he did most of his damage from the corners — he attempted two corner threes per game, compared to only 1.3 from above the break.
However, in each of his seasons with the Rockets, House comfortably attempted more threes from above the break than the corners and showed off more of his shooting repertoire. For his career overall, House has maintained solid volume (6.3 attempts per 36 minutes) and reasonable efficiency (36.6 percent) from three. Defenses will have to respect him, which is all the Sixers need to keep the floor spaced around their stars.
House isn’t an advanced shooter. He won’t be sprinting off screens or shooting at difficult angles on the move. But shots like those in the video below illustrate his confidence against closeouts and ability to relocate into space when need be. He also has a fast enough trigger to hit some quick threes in transition when trailing behind ball-handlers or flaring out to the wing. When Harden fires outlet passes down the court or Tyrese Maxey pushes the pace, House should fit in just fine.
Plus, House’s history with Harden should only help him settle into the offense and find openings for spot-ups that Harden will be looking for.
When House has a chance to attack an aggressive closeout, he’s capable of putting the ball on the floor a little, too. Again, you don’t want to initiate offense through him, but when defenders are scrambling he can drive inside to execute simple finishes or dump-off passes on the move.
With Harden, Maxey and Joel Embiid all collapsing defenses, House should find some easy opportunities to benefit with drives this.
Beyond his complementary offensive role, though, it’s defense where House will really be able to help the Sixers.
House surpassed Royce O’Neale as the Jazz’s best wing defender to end last season. He was even closing some games in the playoffs over O’Neale. While that clearly says quite a lot about the shaky state of Utah’s perimeter defense, it also reinforces how well House played there and what he’s capable of. He was a genuinely good defender for the Jazz.
Of course, there are always various team-wide factors to consider in a player’s on/off numbers, but it’s not just a fluke that Utah had a 107.8 defensive rating with House on the floor compared to 112.6 with O’Neale on.
At 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, House will bring some much-needed size to the Sixers’ wing rotation. He’s reasonably athletic, too. At least, enough to give what was previously a slow group of wings a boost in that department. While he doesn’t record many steals (0.7 per game for his career, and only one per 36 minutes), he has enough speed and length to jump into passing lanes here and there and attack down court.
House mainly uses his physical tools effectively in half-court defense, where the Jazz often deployed him against top perimeter threats. He slides his feet fairly well and has the length to contest jumpers and attempts in the paint.
He can’t always keep up with more explosive scorers, but still has solid lateral quickness to switch down onto some guards and be a nuisance.
House was effective in the Rockets’ switch-heavy schemes, and helped Utah’s drop coverage as well. Even though he isn’t the most agile screen navigator, he worked to give the Jazz what they needed from him and generally did a fine job.
He competes to trail around screens, and uses his mobility and length to recover and contest drives. Again, you can see House shifting his feet to cover some smaller guards in the following clips:
And, thanks to his size, House can hang with some bigger forwards as well. He generally stays physical and disciplined in these 1-on-1 situations.
At the very least, House won’t be a target for opposing offenses in the playoffs. That alone will give the Sixers’ wing rotation an upgrade. He’s better than that, though, and showed again in Utah that he can be a plus defender.
For the most part, House can also switch across 2s to 4s and get by. Combined with the ability of Melton and Tucker to switch up and down, the Sixers will have far more versatile defensive lineups at their disposal now. A smaller group of Harden, Melton, House, Tobias Harris and Tucker would have shooting and switching upside.
Ultimately, expectations should never be too high for someone signing on such a small contract. But the Sixers don’t need much from House. Reliable spot-up shooting, capable defense, and the benefit of more size and lineup options alone will strengthen their roster. That’s what he can offer.
If House continues the strong performance he displayed in Utah, the Sixers have someone who will improve their wing play at both ends of the floor, start at times if need be, and be a part of their playoff rotation. As their third-best acquisition of the offseason so far, that’s pretty good going.