FALCON POINTS

5 key questions in Houston sports once the teams return

Photo by Getty Images.

The sports world is slowly creeping back, with the UFC, German soccer and NASCAR staging events this past week. They were unquestionably all successes, which means the rest of the leagues will soon follow suit. (One other encouraging thing; horse racing has been there all along, with limited Rona-related issues. So sports without fans can be pulled off). With that in mind, here are five things to look forward to the most as the sports world returns in Houston (this is assuming, of course, that all the leagues and colleges do come back):

5) Can the Dynamo become relevant again?

Dynamo fans get angry when their team is left off lists like this, but the reality is this team has been a disaster, with only one playoff appearance in the last six seasons in a league that all but begs you to make the playoffs. They brought in a promising new coach in Tab Ramos, and hoped to bring a new attitude and new style. There were only two games to go on before the Rona hit, including a home draw and a bad road loss. For a team that has been a mess on the road for years, it was not a great start. Now, like everyone else, they have to hit the reset button. But they have a lot farther to go than most teams. Will they be able to pull it together after the break? Can they be anything more than a DNQ in the playoff race again? Those are the pressing questions.

4) Can the UH resurgence continue?

In football, Dana Holgorsen's first season was simply a disaster. But prior coach Major Applewhite left him little to work with. Holgorsen's track record though, should give hope. Yes, QB D'Eriq King is gone, but Holgorsen should have more talent around QB Clayton Tune in year two and the Cougars should be able to make a jump. If not, things could get a little testy on Cullen. Meanwhile, Kelvin Sampson's basketball squad would have made the NCAA Tournament had it not been canceled, but the team was very young and should be even better in 2020, even losing a couple players to the pros. The question is not whether they will be a good team; it's how good can they be? The bar is set pretty high, and it will be fun to see if they can reach it.

3) Do the Rockets have another gear?

Before the break, the Rockets were alternating between stretches where they looked like a title contender and other points where they looked like first-round fodder. The question was always going to be how this team would do in the playoffs. Since the postseason is likely to begin with their return, we will get the answer quickly. Will they thrive in a shortened postseason? Or are the bad Rockets headed for an early exit? The good news is we get to find out soon.

2) Is Bill O'Brien really smart?

His off-season moves have been well chronicled, and universally ripped locally and nationally. But at least he has his team. While most will remain skeptical, O'Brien is banking on being smarter than everyone else. He still has Deshaun Watson, who can overcome a lot of his coach's shortcomings. But will it be enough?

1) Will the Astros still have a shot in what looks like the last year of their window?

This was going to be a big year for the Astros, returning with most of last year's World Series loser intact. The off-season controversy surrounding the 2017 cheaters took on a life of its own. But perhaps the team to benefit most from this break is the Astros. The delay should be enough to get Justin Verlander back and healthy. More time and a shortened schedule should benefit Lance McCullers. And if there are no fans? The trash can crew will have no impact. Perhaps by the time fans return, the controversy will have faded and will not be an issue. How the Astros respond will be critical. Of all the teams on the list, however, they could benefit from this break the most. Will they?

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The Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

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