A BRIGHT FUTURE

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

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.
Rockets would feel the heat from this bold move, but it's worth it

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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Astros look to avoid the sweep Thursday afternoon. Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images.

Spencer Arrighetti's major league debut for the Houston Astros hardly went as planned.

The team's top pitching prospect was tagged for seven runs in the third inning of an 11-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.

“I would say a little bit of nerves (and) a lot of emotions,” Arrighetti said. “When you want something that bad your whole life, you want it to be perfect. You want it to go really smoothly and you want everything to feel good. But (the) reality is before the game I was a little bit of an anxious mess. I feel like I had to work harder to get my emotions down a little bit.”

Called up from Triple-A Sugar Land to fill an opening in Houston's injury-depleted rotation, Arrighetti held the Royals off the scoreboard while laboring through the first two innings.

But he unraveled in the third as Kansas City sent 11 batters to the plate.

“He started the game throwing the ball well,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “That third inning kind of got away from him. He started leaving some balls over the plate. I felt like everything they put in play kind of fell for them.”

Arrighetti allowed seven runs, seven hits and three walks in three innings. He struck out three and threw 47 of 79 pitches for strikes.

The 24-year-old right-hander was the Astros’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2023. He went 9-7 with a 4.40 ERA in 124 2/3 innings over 28 appearances, including 21 starts. He recorded 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings and a 2.39 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

“We’ve seen the increase in (velocity) the last year or two. And when he executes his pitches, he can work both sides of the plate. And if he does that, he’ll be in good shape,” Espada said before the game.

Arrighetti was born in New Mexico and went to high school in Texas before the Astros chose him in the sixth round of the 2021 amateur draft out of Louisiana at Lafayette.

He had 10 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings at Triple-A this season, allowing two runs and seven hits with seven walks in two starts.

“Knowing that you belong is very important,” Espada said before the game. “I think he knows he belongs. (He’ll) not try to do too much, stay calm, let your defense help you out, execute your pitches and trust the plan. I think he’s capable of doing those things.”

To make room for Arrighetti on the roster, Houston optioned right-hander Wander Suero to Sugar Land.

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