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 loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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