A NEW ERA

Here's an honest look at Rockets' building blocks for the future

Looking forward. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets did not make an impactful decision at the trade deadline. There were speculations that Victor Oladipo's trade stock could be low. The speculations became reality last Thursday when Oladipo was traded to the Miami Heat for Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley, and a pick-swap in the 2022 NBA Draft.

There were some reports that defended the moves of Rockets' GM Rafael stone. That he wanted to groom Kevin Porter Jr. inside this gruesome season by giving him more minutes. Porter loves the elevated challenge the Rockets' front office and coaching staff gave him. The Rockets brought Porter to Houston for a reason, besides the miscues with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Porter's offensives splits this season have been fair. So far, Porter is scoring 16.1 points per game, shooting 45.1% from the field, 65% at the free-throw line, and his efficiency is 50.4%. Porter has played good basketball for the Rockets in eight games. The Rockets are hoping his progress and growth continues to expand. It was reported by the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen that Christian Wood and Porter remain optimistic about the Rockets, despite the bad season.

"It feels good to have that trust from the organization and having that support for the coach and the brothers on the team," Porter said. "Honestly, it's a big confidence boost for me. I need to work to get better and make everybody around me better."

Although, the Rockets have had their struggles this season, the building blocks for the future have appeared. A huge example is Jae'Sean Tate because of his growth underneath Coach Silas. Per 100 possessions, Tate is scoring 17 points per game in 47 minutes. Tate started this season only scoring six points per game to 10 points per game. His game is unusual because of the position he plays and his size. Somehow, it works for what the 6'4 Tate is doing on the court. Tate has become unstoppable inside the paint for the Rockets. He's 68% from inside the restricted area because of his craftiness and strong shoulders.

Tate has also become a good playmaker as well. He averages almost two assists per game. Tate is great at finding the open man on the perimeter or through traffic inside the paint. The announcers of the Minnesota Timberwolves called Tate "Draymond Green-lite."

Tate has become efficient for the Rockets too. He is 56.9% in efficiency, which is in front of Bam Adebayo (55th percentile among big men), according to Cleaning the Glass. Tate is also a good defender for the Rockets. His lower body strength allows him to guard big men on the block. He can even defend guards on the perimeter well because his of quick feet. Tate is a very versatile defender. His defensive rating on the season is 108.7.

Even though the Oladipo trade package didn't excite Rockets fans, Stone has still done a good job as the GM. The Rockets could easily pick up Bradley's option, which is only $5.9 million. Bradley is a good defender and could be the veteran voice among the younger Rockets next season, if he wants to be in Houston.

Stone found Tate in Belgium, picked up Kenyon Martin Jr. in the 2nd round of the 2020 NBA Draft, gave Sterling Brown a shot, and took a chance on David Nwaba. All these players were undiscovered talents that Stone took a chance on.

Hopefully, the Rockets can re-sign Olynyk in the offseason. He scored 16 points in 25 minutes off 66% shooting from three. Olynyk showed his ability to stretch the floor and make excellent passes at the top of the key. I'm curious to see how Olynyk does against better competition.

The Rockets have building blocks for this season and the future, so hopefully the can turn things around quickly.

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Houston gets back in the win column

Astros end six-game skid thanks to a gem by Greinke

Zack Greinke tossed a gem Saturday night. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

After the Mariners roared back Friday night to get a walk-off win over the Astros, dashing their hopes of ending their losing streak, Houston tried to even the series with a win on Saturday night with their ace Zack Greinke on the mound. Greinke would do his part, throwing a terrific game, and the Astros would squeak out one run, which was enough to get back in the win column.

Final Score: Astros 1, Mariners 0

Astros' Record: 7-7, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Chris Flexen (1-1)

Plenty of hits, but only one run

Although the Astros were racking up hits against Chris Flexen, they had little to show for it. Eight different batters would notch ten hits against him, but the only time it amounted to a run was on a two-out RBI-single by Taylor Jones in the top of the fourth, giving Houston a 1-0 lead.

Greinke spins a gem

Luckily for them, Zack Greinke was making it look like that would be enough. He cruised through the Mariners all night, allowing just four hits while giving up zero runs along with six strikeouts, one of which moved him past 2,700 on his career. He could have attempted to finish the complete-game shutout, but at 91 pitches after eight, Dusty Baker opted to bring in closer Ryan Pressly for the ninth. Greinke's final line: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 91 P.

Houston finally ends their losing streak

With the high-leverage save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered to hold on to the one-run lead. He would do his job, finishing off the win for Greinke and putting an end to Houston's disappointing losing streak.

Up Next: The third and final game of this series will get underway at 3:10 PM Central on Sunday. Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 13.50 ERA) will look to make a rebound from his disappointing first start with the Astros, while the Mariners will start Nick Margevicius (0-1, 7.04 ERA).

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