I figure y’all don’t need reminding that these aren’t your father’s Rockets. I don’t even think these are your brother’s Rockets either, especially if you don’t have a brother. That kinda eliminates you out of the metaphor. But the point stands, the Rockets are basically last year’s Rockets in that this is a team still in rebuild mode. But, as one of the dozen or so Padres fans from another ball sport (heehee balls), one can be accustomed to a bad team and still like the parts on it. In this, I guess “mechanic” type metaphor, parts are people and before I start getting too random, yes, the Rockets will be terrible, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some non-terrible things on it. I guess I could have just said that and saved 250 words of bad metaphors. Hmm.
Record: 20-62, 15th Seed, Did not make playoffs.
Under their second-year under coach Stephen Silas, the Rockets won just 20 games. As alluded to above during metaphor-polooza (metaphorgeddon?), the Rockets are in full rebuild mode and aren’t being shy about it. Rather than meandering in the middle and trying to do a half-and-half retool while trying to win, I give praise to a team that blows it all up and commits fully. While we won’t know if this strategy succeeds for at least a couple of years, it was encouraging to see Jalen Green put up a strong rookie season.
Projected Depth Chart
PG: Kevin Porter Jr., Trey Burke, TyTy Washington Jr.
SG: Jalen Green, Josh Christopher
SF: Eric Gordon, Jae’Sean Tate, Garrison Mathews
PF: Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason, Kenyon Martin Jr.
C: Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba, Boban Marjanovic
Most of the potential hype this season will come from the aforementioned sophomore point guard in Jalen Green, but also three new (and intriguing) rookie additions in Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason, and TyTy Washington Jr. Smith is projected as a forward with agility and raw athleticism with defense being his strength. He should be able to guard on the perimeter with his tools. Strangely enough, you could kinda describe Eason in the same way, just with a bit more defense and less offense. Washington seems to be a pretty polished guard with good vision and a mid-range shot.
You’ll find a solid rotation player in Jae’Sean Tate. With good enough defense to keep him on the floor, his potential for a high field-goal percentage and steals-per-game could help. If he can continue or improve on his 38% shooting from beyond the arc, there is potential for more minutes.
Alperen Sengun had a pretty lackluster season last year, but did receive more minutes post All-Star break… which still led to disappointment. But with Christian Wood now gone, for what it’s worth, there is now a path open for even more minutes. While I’m not sure that was the issue, it is possible for him to take a step forward if Sengun either improves his ranged shooting or just stops altogether and just focuses on rebounds, assists and his post-presence.
Projected Record: 28-54, 12th Seed
While I wouldn’t expect too much from this Rockets team, there’s still lots to like when you partition the promise from the noise. Granted, this type of strategy can lead to trying to find a needle in a stack of needles (what a twist, sorry hay lovers), but don’t ignore the value you might be able to find in what is a team that will be giving its own potential a chance to shine.
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him on Twitter @jaywrong.