The Rockets ended the 2020-21 season with a silly lineup of players no one could have imagined when the season began. When the training camp arrived, they were working on an almost brand new list filled with teens. Much can change in a year.
When the Rockets moved James Harden, it was clear they were going into rebuilding mode. Even fans did not imagine what that meant. From one of the oldest and most stable playoff teams in the early 2020 season to one of the youngest with some of the biggest revenue in early 2021, it was both fascinating and exciting. Now the task is to gather it all. Let’s look back.
15 losses, 7 wins
After winning their opening game of the season, the Rockets continued to reject 15 moves in a row. Many began to wonder if they were destined to be the worst team ever. Nothing seemed to work as the row changed almost every night. Then, with a combination of a smaller lineup and a run against particularly poor teams, the Rockets turned it around to win seven straight. It was the first time a team had followed up on a losing streak of 15 games with so many wins in a row. At least they will not be the worst team ever.
Daniel’s house is abandoned
In late 2020, inside the NBA playoff bubble, House violated the protocols by having a female guest in her room. He was started from the bubble and the Rockets were not happy at all. He later apologized to his team and fans, but it felt like the injury had happened. After a very good training camp, he struggled to start the year and ended up injured. Finally, on Dec. 17, the Rockets gave up on the Houston natives, allowing him to eventually sign with the Knicks.
KPJ scores 50
One of the few bright spots last season was the emergency for Kevin Porter, Jr. In late April, Porter lost 50 points and 10 assists to the Milwaukee Bucks, who would go on to win the title. Porter became the youngest player to ever achieve that feat. This season, he was handed the reins as the team’s newly appointed point guard. While he had a slightly hard start, he appeared to be turning a corner before a thigh contusion caused him to sit out for a few weeks with injury. The Rockets are betting on Porter as part of a fresh new backcourt that should be the future of the franchise.
John Wall is sitting
KPJ was able to take on point guard duties because the Rockets and Wall agreed in training camp that his days on the team were essentially over. With the team focused on the youth, the management and Wall agreed that he would sit out while he was still with the team until they could find a deal that would work. As he wrote this, Wall is still a rocket and has said he would like to play. He has reportedly moved up to regain his place on the list, but there are no indications as to when it will be or how it will work.
The teenagers arrive
Everyone knew the Rockets would start from scratch, and the draft was the first opportunity to do so. After getting the second choice, they looked at three choices in the first round. On draft night, they made a trade with Oklahoma City to acquire a fourth. By the end of the night, the four had 19-year-olds on the list, only one of whom had played in college. Jalen Green, an athletic all-world guard, was first followed by the Turkish big man Alperen Sengun, MVP for one of the best leagues outside the NBA at just 18. Then the Spanish defensive big Usman Garuba immediately followed the talented, athletic wing Josh Christopher. Everyone except Garuba has contributed significant minutes to the team already this year, especially Sengun, who is light years over his age in basketball IQ.