Houston Rockets Team Previewby Darius Walker October 13, 2021 0 comments
The Houston Rockets spent the 2020-21 NBA season beginning their rebuild. They moved on from head coach Mike D’Antoni, general manager Daryl Morey stepped down and franchise cornerstone James Harden was traded. Harden made it known publicly that he wanted a trade, so the Rockets decided it would be best for both parties to move on. When Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, the Rockets’ rebuild began.
Christian Wood was the team’s biggest 2020 offseason addition, and he lived up to the hype. Wood averaged 21 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. His performance gave the organization a building block for the future. Unfortunately, Wood only played in 41 of the team’s games and they suffered mightily in his absence. The Rockets finished the season with a record of 17-55, the worst record in the NBA.
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It was a quiet offseason for Houston. A trade with the Chicago Bulls for center Daniel Theis was their biggest move. However, the draft is where the Rockets made some noise. After losing a superstar talent like Harden, things couldn’t have worked out more perfectly for the Rockets, as they selected future star Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft. On top of owning that selection, the team also had three more picks in the first round. They added frontcourt depth by drafting bigs Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba. The Rockets used their last first-round pick on guard Josh Christopher. Christopher was one of the top recruits coming out of high school in the nation, but slipped in the draft due to an up and down season at Arizona State.
The Starting Five
PG – Kevin Porter Jr.
SG – Jalen Green
SF – Eric Gordon
PF – Christian Wood
C – Daniel Theis
John Wall and the Rockets have come to a mutual agreement to sit the point guard until the team can find a trade that works for both parties. With Wall sidelined, Kevin Porter Jr. will start at point guard. Porter Jr. has a ton of potential, as evident with his play last season. Green will start at shooting guard, giving the Rockets a dynamic backcourt with two elite athletes. The small forward position is the one spot where there’s some uncertainty. Gordon, Jae’Sean Tate, or Daniel House Jr. could fill the void there. Gordon is the best shooter, so he gets the nod here.
The arrival of Theis allows Wood to slide to the power forward position where he’ll be able to avoid the more physical bigs in the NBA. Wood shot 37 percent from three-point land last season, so he gives the team a floor spacer in the frontcourt. Coach Stephen Silas likes to push the pace and this is the perfect lineup for that. They are going to struggle on both ends of the floor, but they will be exciting to watch.
The Rockets bench is filled with youth. If Tate doesn’t start then he will be the team’s best bench player. Tate made the 2021-21 NBA All-Rookie First Team and will look to improve on his productive rookie campaign. Tate is a versatile player who can play both forward positions and even a little guard. His defense will be key and he could see himself handling the ball a little more with the second unit. Kenyon Martin Jr. is a high-energy player who makes highlight-reel plays. He had a better rookie season than expected. As a result, he should be in for more minutes.
Sengun may be a rookie, but he is going to get a good amount of minutes as the backup center. He played well in NBA Summer League and looked pro-ready. D.J. Augustin is an experienced veteran who will keep things steady with the second unit as the backup point guard. David Nwaba and House Jr., are the defensive wings. Christopher and Garuba may not earn much playing time as rookies, but they’ll both get chances to flash their potential.
One Potential Move to Make
Moving John Wall is the top priority for Houston. The point guard would most likely want to be on a contender at this stage of his career, but his hefty contract makes moving him difficult. If the Philadelphia 76ers were interested, then moving Wall, another young piece, and a couple of first-round picks in exchange for Ben Simmons would be ideal from Houston’s perspective. Simmons would be a great fit next to Green and Porter Jr., giving the team another playmaker and a lockdown defender. Simmons would jumpstart the Rockets’ rebuild and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them push for a spot in the NBA play-in tournament.
Houston is in for a long season, but that’s what is expected. This season is all about developing the youth on the roster. Green is the betting favorite for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award and he will have the ultimate green light in his rookie season. Green and Porter Jr. will focus on developing their chemistry in the backcourt. Wood is aiming to prove that last season was no fluke. He signed a three-year deal with the Rockets last season, but could earn a big extension if he continues his strong play. The Rockets should be one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NBA with a youthful, athletic roster and a head coach aiming to push the pace.
Season Prediction: 26-56, Last Place in the Southwest Division
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