This past summer, the Houston Rockets selected freshman phenom Jabari Smith Jr. out of Auburn University with the 3rd pick in the NBA draft. Smith’s selection gave the Clutch City fanbase something to cheer about.
The 6’11” forward had all the makings of an elite “stretch four.” His skillset led pundits to openly postulate that Smith could one day become a Kevin Garnett or Dirk Nowitzki type of player. While comparing an incoming rookie to future Hall of Famers is unfair and premature, the Rockets needed a glimmer of hope after winning only 20 games last season.
On paper, the team features some of the best young talent in the league. Twenty-year-old Jalen Green is a walking highlight reel who seems to throw down another jaw-dropping dunk every night. 21-year-old KJ Martin gives NBA fans flashbacks to the old New Jersey Nets when Jason Kidd makes three alley-oop passes to his father for above-the-rim finishes.
22-year-old Kevin Porter Jr. signed a four-year extension for $82.5 million before the start of the season, due to his ability to erupt for 30 or more points on any given night.
The Houston Rockets are loaded with talent. However, their team has not gelled into a winning product on the court.
However, in spite of all the talent on their roster, the Rockets are not off to a good start this season. Currently, the team has a dismal record of three wins and fourteen losses, good for last place in the Western Conference. If the season were to end today, the franchise would join the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes with all of the other lottery hopefuls.
Although their chances of turning things around enough to qualify for the playoffs or the play-in tournament grow slimmer with each loss, all hope is not lost in Houston. There is still a lot of basketball to be played, and the Rockets still have time to make this a respectable campaign. Let’s take a closer look at what the team must do to change course and salvage the remainder of the season, while also examining the pros and cons of their current dilemma.