Preview 2022/23 | Youth take over in Houston


The EuroBasket having just ended, Basket USA is starting its traditional presentation, franchise by franchise, of the upcoming NBA season. Like every year, this one takes the form of a countdown, from the worst record in the league to our favorite for the title of champion.

After a stint in the Eastern Conference with the Pacers, here we are back in the West, in Texas. For two seasons and the departure of James Harden, the Rockets have been in total reconstruction. They are starting from zero and the results prove it: 17 successes in 2020/2021, then 20 victories last season. No team has done worse over this period in the league…

The departure of Christian Wood, the team’s top scorer for two years, could seem like a miscalculation, which would herald another difficult season for the troops of Stephen Silas. But as the cumbersome John Wall file is put away, it is above all a sign that it is now the young people who will have all the power.

The duo Kevin Porter Jr. – Jalen Green has already shown great things in the second half of the 2021/2022 season, not to mention the promises of Jae’Sean Tate, Kenyon Martin Jr, Josh Christopher or even Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba, followed by the Eurobasket franchise. Then there is an interesting crop of rookies, with Jabari Smith Jr (3rd choice), Tari Eason (17th) and Tyty Washington Jr. (29th).

This nursery of young shoots will obviously have enthusiasm, energy and talent to spare. This youth will make mistakes, especially the rookies who will discover the high level and will not have veterans (except Eric Gordon) to guide them, and probably struggle in defense at first, but there is enormous potential for make many opponents tremble. It’s up to Stephen Silas, who has finally had a calm summer to work with, to install discipline and consistent play, while taking advantage of the speed of his exteriors and the ardor of his group, in order to find the right balance. and lay the solid foundations for a successful reconstruction.

SUMMER MOVEMENTS

Arrivals : Jabari Smith Jr, Tari Eason, Tyty Washington Jr.
Departures : Christian Wood (Mavericks), John Wall (Clippers), Trevelin Queen (Sixers)

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jalen Green

Several players will be interesting to watch this season in Houston, but perhaps none more so than Jalen Green. The full-back ended his first year as a cannonball averaging 28.1 points over the last nine games, stringing together over 30 points. During the second half of the season, after the All-Star Game, he was more consistent and sharp and the question of confirmation naturally arises: will he still be able to surf in 2022/2023 on his impressive performances in March / April? , when the matches will have a real stake?

With his ability to score points, his relaxation and his spectacular actions, he is a potential All-Star, who will be asked to carry the Rockets, to be a leader. Even if the losses accumulate, the Rockets can be satisfied if their guard becomes a constant threat.

For his second season, his coach expects more physical power from his young back, to better resist blows, and he will also have to be more skilful at 3-pts, as was the case in the last days of last season. It is with a more precise and regular outside shot that Jalen Green will be able to completely explode the defenses.

Average age: 24.2 years old
Payroll: $129.1 million (26th)

THE IDEAL SCENARIO

The summer work of Stephen Silas as well as the continuity of the last two seasons pays off. The Rockets now have an identity, they make progress in defense when in attack, the ball circulates and the talent of each associates with that of the others. A collective begins to emerge.

Jalen Green is the one who shines the most, without eclipsing the others, and proves that his heat stroke at the end of last season was only a small glimpse of his abilities. Kevin Porter Jr. wants his contract extension and is playing fair, Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba got bigger during EuroBasket and Jabari Smith Jr., who wanted to prove the Magic were wrong not to bet on him for the first choice of the Draft, succeeds in its first steps.

It plays fast and it’s fun, sometimes even spectacular, and a few cards come to please the public at the Toyota Center. Houston is finally leaving the slums of the Western Conference and the Texans are in the race for the « play-in » until the last days of the exercise, in April. We are waiting for the sequel.

WORST SCENARIO

Envy and youth are not enough to win matches. The lack of experience, of players with years on the clock who know how to negotiate matches plus the limits of young elements still perfectible weigh down ambitions and promises. Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green are still making statistics but, due to lack of technical accuracy, fail to advance their team and their teammates and their duo still does not seem to complement each other. Tyty Washington Jr. is never far away either to force and the collective game is seized up.

Already weakened by the inaccuracies of the exteriors, the association between Jabari Smith Jr. and Alperen Sengun inside is groping. Despite the energy of Garuba, Tate, Martin Jr. and other Christopher, the defense is still as permeable and Houston sinks systematically against teams well in place offensively.

Faced with this disorganization, Stephen Silas tramples and often changes five majors. The coach does not find the solutions and Houston remains, for the third time in a row, in the group of very bad students of the season, promised in the Draft. The leaders crack and drop Stephen Silas, to relaunch a project that does not take off.

WEST CONFERENCE
15-Thunder14- Spurs13-Jazz12 – Rockets11 – …
10 – …9 – …8 – …7 – …6 – …
5 – …4 – …3 – …2 – …1 – …
EAST CONFERENCE
15 – Magic14 – Pacers13 – …12 – …11 – …
10 – …9 – …8 – …7 – …6 – …
5 – …4 – …3 – …2 – …1 – …

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