A BRIGHT FUTURE

Here's why there's still upside with the Rockets, despite a tough season

Christian Wood has been the difference between winning and losing. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Although the Houston Rockets' season looks completely over, this team still has a ton of upside. The Rockets six-game winning streak was fueled behind Christian Wood and John Wall's performances. Unfortunately, Wood has been out for nine games straight due to an ankle injury. Those nine games Wood missed resulted in losses. The Rockets have not won a game since February 4 th against the Memphis Grizzlies.

What is the next step for the Rockets? Tanking? Trading individual players? All this could be possible for the Rockets to move forward. The Rockets could possibly look into finding younger players. So, it won't come as a surprise if PJ Tucker is dealt by the deadline. This team needs a fresh start after the James Harden era. Possibly finding new teams for Danuel House and Ben McLemore should be considered. Plus, Eric Gordon deserves a chance to compete for the playoffs too. He is having a phenomenal season on a bad team.

Trade scenarios

Why not send Eric Gordon, Victor Oladipo, and Ben McLemore for Kelly Oubre and Eric Paschall? Everybody wins. The Golden State Warriors get two perimeter and versatile scorers, minus Oladipo's shooting struggles. That could also help Steph Curry with extra scoring, so he does not continue to burn himself out. Here's another trade scenario that I thought was interesting. As Zak Noble of "Ball Is Life" gave me scenarios on my podcast titled, Zo's Podcast, he suggested the New York Knicks, as well as the Warriors. It allowed me to plug in the pieces. So, with this last one, House and Tucker would fit perfectly with the Knicks. Tom Thibodeau could bring the best out of House, while allowing Tucker to play the power forward position alongside Julius Randle. The Rockets would receive Nerlens Noel who would play behind Wood.

A reason to be optimistic?

The optimism stands behind Kevin Porter Jr. Porter's G-League play has been impeccable. He completed the first triple-double in the G-league this season. Porter's play could be like his idol, James Harden. His game revolves around pick-n-roll, splitting picks, step-backs, and versatile dribbling. Harden used to be a ferocious dunker around the rim, which Porter does a lot more. Porter leads the G-league with 23.7 points per game, averages 7.4 assists a game, which is third in the league, and he's leading the league in points and assists. He is the main reason the Rio Grande Vipers stay in games. Porter playing point guard has allowed him to be an aggressive scorer and playmaker. He sees the floor well while playing point guard. That helps Porter find teammates, attack driving lanes, and find his shot. Porter's IQ when it comes to reading screens is unbelievably good. There were concerns about some troubles in his past. But Porter has shown leadership, which is pivotal. Encouraging his teammates to become better and giving each player confidence.

"[I've] been making notches every day with everything off the court. [I've] been trying to be a better person, better player, and better leader down here," said by Porter after scoring 27 points, 14 assists, and 11 rebounds in a Vipers win. "[I've] been [focused] on my guys down here, trying to get them right. Trying to get their bag."

Porter's offensive rating is 106.9 while having a net rating of -0.3, which is impressive. His true shooting and efficiency percentages are above 50%. Porter has a chance to become the NBA G-League MVP. Coach Silas loves the progress Porter is making in the G-League.

"He is moving in the right direction playing the point exclusively, making plays for his teammates. He is super skilled in his ball handling. And when he gets back, he is going to be a huge part in what we are doing. Him getting in shape and the success he is having down there is important to build on that. When he gets back, hopefully, he will be able to fit right in."

Looking ahead

The NBA Draft will be critical for the Rockets, so will they tank? Honestly, they could, but it depends on how much they play Wood when he gets back. It was reported by Kelly Iko of The Athletic that Wood was 80%. Wood could possibly help the Rockets win more game this season but how many? If the Rockets want a chance to get Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, or Jonathan Kuminga, tanking must become an option. They could lose their top four pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder if consistent winning occurs. Here is my analysis below on the top three players in the 2021 NBA Draft.



Hopefully, a great idea comes along with the Rockets' future in mind. The upside is there for the Rockets' front office, but they have to be the ones to figure it out.

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