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."
Have yourself a night, @Kevinporterjr! Highlights 📼 ⤵️ https://t.co/L6vE1OSb1I— Houston Rockets (@Houston Rockets) 1616899184.0
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's got the moves 🔥 https://t.co/3Sl5hQWEWH— Houston Rockets (@Houston Rockets) 1616895302.0
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.
🚀 Strong debut for @KellyOlynyk. 📈 16PTS https://t.co/sVbHzzz9Xw— Houston Rockets (@Houston Rockets) 1616898950.0
The Rockets have building blocks for this season and the future, so hopefully the can turn things around quickly.
As the Astros prepare to play their first game of spring training against the Nationals this Saturday, we're starting to see reports about how the players approached the offseason, and what tweaks they made to improve in the 2024 season.
Cristian Javier is a player Astros fans are hoping bounces back this year, as his ERA jumped from 2.54 in 2022 to 4.56 in 2023. Workload was thought to be one of the main factors causing his regression, he dealt with a dead arm last season and threw more innings than ever before (162).
Another explanation could be the pitch clock. This was another new element all pitchers had to deal with last year, and that also likely played a role in his struggles.
But according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Javier believes he was carrying some extra weight last season. Add that to some mechanical issues he was experiencing, and his struggles in 2023 make a lot more sense. And to be fair, he wouldn't be the first person to get a little fat and happy after winning a World Series.
Cristian Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. He acknowledged that some of his struggles last year could be attributed to some extra weight he was carrying around in addition to the already-documented mechanical flaws he had.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 22, 2024
In an effort to get back on track in 2024, Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. With the pitch clock not going anywhere, pitchers need to be in better cardiac shape than ever before.
Hopefully this modification helps Javier return to form and put up jaw-dropping numbers like he did in 2022. This rotation needs Javier to be the dominate pitcher we all know he's capable of being. With Justin Verlander behind schedule and Framber Valdez trying to bounce back from his own down year, Houston will depend on Javier like never before.
The Astros are certainly counting on it after giving him a 5-year, $64 million contract last season. Javier will definitely be a player to watch this spring.