We started! Preview of the NBA 2021-22 season: about the Houston Rockets. Data, results from the previous season, a look at their squad and future free agents, the objectives of the course, the player to watch and a forecast on the franchise.
- Market movements: exits of Kelly Olynik, Avery Bradley and Sterling Brown; arrival of Daniel Theis.
- Backcourt: John Wall, Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Eric Gordon, D.J. Agustin, Khyri Thomas, Josh Christopher.
- Frontcourt: Christian Wood, Daniel Theis, Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba, Jae’Sean Tate, David Nwaba, Kenyon Martin Jr., Danuel House.
This is how they face the season
Less than a year ago, the Houston Rockets ceased to be one of the most successful and stable projects of the decade. In just a couple of months, Texans saw their entire structure collapse. Starting with Daryl Morey, going through Mike D’Antoni and ending with James Harden’s goodbye in January. Obviously, a scare of this caliber is insurmountable in the short term, and as a result, the Rockets ended up being the team with the fewest victories in the entire league.
Since Harden’s departure, Stephen Silas’ team has hardly been recognizable, occasionally being a collection of players in low hours trying to show that they are still part of this league. Of the Demarcus Cousins and Victor Oladipos only John Wall remains on the roster, showing himself recovered from his physical problems although still far from his best version.
As in any anticompetitive team, the main —almost the only— interest of the past year was the individual performance of some players to take advantage of in the immediate future, either by keeping them on the squad or by obtaining revenue from their transfer. In these borders Christian Wood was erected as the greatest competitive argument of the roster And it proved that the bet the Rockets made for him last preseason made sense.
For their part, David Nwaba and Jae’Sean Tate have starred in good campaigns, gaining extensions this summer. The icing on the cake is Kevin Porter Jr., who has been able to put talent above his turbulent character and irregularity on the court, which places him as one of the possible faces of the franchise for years to come. Although it has yet to continue to prove it.
Now, although it is not convenient to make positive readings of the end of one of the best clubs of the last five years, there are certain green shoots in its current situation. The first is due to having hit rock bottom, as the team has barely sailed through a season of total laziness from which they have already obtained certain pieces that force them to try to get out of the hole.
The four picks they had in the last draft have brought him more than interesting talents. Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba and Josh Cristopher arrive at a site that will allow them to discover from the first minute who they are as players. Around this idea arises the unknown of what the Houston Rockets are going to be this year, because with their rookies Called to be a vertebral part of the team, it is still impossible to discern what will finally be brought to the NBA.
Will Jalen Green be the same voracious scorer he proved to be on the G League Ignites? Will you already smooth the rough edges of your game? Will Alperen Sengun still be the atypical and deadly center what was open court in Besiktas? Is Usman Garuba set to be an elite defender in the short term or does he fall short for the NBA stage? Will Josh Cristopher respond to deprivation of the boat as his main offensive weapon?
On paper, these rookies leave the team in a better place than at the end of last season, but it is a pipe dream to anticipate their impact on the league with certainty. Kelly Iko, Rockets writer for The Athletic, does not rule out as good options to try Garuba or Christopher in G League. Personally, it would seem like a failure to me if, given the point the franchise is at right now, I had to assign a youngster acquired in the first round to the development league.
Even more so when you consider that John Wall will not start the regular season in Texas. This seemed like a good opportunity for the point guard to finish leaving his physical problems behind while he was a group mentor and the Rockets celebrated a hypothetical revaluation looking for accommodation to his mammoth contract. But the franchise and player are already eyeing new destinations for Wall.
The one who does have a similar situation is Eric Gordon, a veteran who could still be very profitable for other franchises but the Rockets will have no urgency to seek accommodation in other parts of the country in the absence of three years to be a free agent. If, once the season has started, a value offer arrives for him, good, but it would not suppose any drama to keep him on the staff a year from now and without greater short-term salary obligations. In addition, unlike Wall, his presence on the court does not influence playing behaviors so much, so it should not be a drag on the growth of the promising outside line.
His impact coming off the bench could be important, giving some of that necessary balance between youth and seniority to a group that, while not in a position to score many victories, would do well to scrutinize the path to them as soon as possible. Now, I wouldn’t expect Gordon to perform at a level close to his best years. In cases like yours, of veteran players who already have a good guaranteed salary in a team at the bottom of the league, the most normal thing is to expect that demotivation will make them play a couple of marches below while waiting for a transfer to arrive. to get you out of there.
Still, the Houston Rockets season is exciting because you don’t know what to expect from them at the formal game level. But the predictable pile of losses they accumulate at the end of the season will cause interest to wane as the weeks go by.
The player to watch
Jalen Green is the main attraction of the team not only because he is number two in the last draft, but because he promises to be a direct impact talent despite his youth. The first player in draft history to come from the G League is also the most versatile scorer in a litter that comes in with high expectations. His most striking feature is the elastic physical that he boasts, which allows him to be a very electric player capable of attacking the rim with implausible rectifications. But also punish from the medium or long distance.
It will be interesting to see what quota of the ball he has in his hands, since most of his points come from the pot and, presumably, he will share many minutes with Wall and Porter Jr. on the court, two players who like to absorb prominence with the ball. Perhaps, given his tendency to chaos, it is beneficial for him not to be the main generator with the ball and to focus more on executing on the fast track.
In addition, Green comes to the league with the character of a star, a player who stands out. Days before the draft, he was already flirting with the idea of forming a couple with Porter Jr. and shortly after he sent a dart to Detroit that already places him as a public enemy in the city of the motor. Only the future will tell if his duel with Cade Cunningham ends up being a generational rivalry, but for now it will be necessary to discern which player draws his first steps in the league.
Elio Martínez, director of Trends Wide, leaves a personal and subjective forecast on what he thinks each franchise will do during the 2020-21 season.
How scary are these teams full of young people. Fear of the viewer, I say. Because one day the stars can line up and score 120 points for anyone, but these Rockets should be the typical ‘team’ that loses 60 games in the regular season because neither by experience, nor by balance in the squad, nor by objectives —What are they? ? Develop talent? That some veteran shine to transfer it? To bet or not on Kevin Porter Jr.? – They should aspire to much more. I see the Rockets unlikely to go beyond 14th in the West.
Next team tested: Detroit Pistons.
(Cover photo by Ethan Miller / Getty Images)