3 critical factors that will determine long-term success for Rockets
The Rockets have done some pretty amazing things over the last couple weeks. While most teams and fan bases may not put much credence into a six-game win streak, things hit a little different in Houston these days. With the team looking so woefully inept last season, things got off to a rocky start this year. They were 1-16 and were on a 15-game slide prior to finding a winning formula. While some may make an argument for the who’s and why’s of the recent bout of success, I have my own opinions.
First up is Garrison Mathews. He's a 25-year-old shooting guard who's played in 92 games thus far in his career over three seasons but is still considered a rookie. He's the closest thing this team has to a 50/40/90 (percentages of field goals/threes/free throws) player as anything on this roster (48.8/42/80). He has the fifth-highest Player Efficiency Rating (14.33) on the team in only 10 games played. He's the kind of smart and efficient player that can stick around and contribute to a future playoff team here, while also helping the core guys grow.
Guard Armoni Brooks is another underrated Rocket during this recent uptick in play. He has a +19 plus/minus rating over the last few games, shooting 35% from three in the six-game win streak. Brooks is considered a rookie despite playing in 20 games last year and starting five of them. While the only stat that's gone up for Brooks has been his free throw percentage, he's managed to carve himself some playing time this season. He may earn himself more playing time if he continues to be a positive when on the court.
Jae'Sean Tate gives off P.J. Tucker vibes. Kevin Porter Jr and Jalen Green are copies of each other to me. Christian Wood should be traded to make more room for Alperen Sengun to play bigger minutes, so he develops. Sengun is a guy I believe can be a solid Robin to Green's Batman. KPJ is interesting because he and Green can either work or be a disaster. It really depends on his development as a point guard. The veteran players brought in should all have a singular focus: helping the younger guys develop, while helping create a winning culture in the organization. Sure, those guys want to come in and win, but they're also professionals and understand what's asked of them. Anything outside of that should be eliminated.
Ultimate success for the Rockets will come down to 3 key factors
Green is seen as the unquestioned future of this franchise, but guys like Sengun, Tate, Brooks, and Mathews seem like good fits to keep around Green. They should turn into complimentary pieces. Keeping young players around Green, and potentially KPJ, will help them grow together. We've seen what happens when a young team is put together and grows together. I'm not saying they'll become a Warriors, Patriots, or any other recent dynasty, but the possibilities are there. This roster can turn into something special if given the right time, opportunities, and environment to grow in.
I often wonder what would've happened to those early '00s Clippers teams if they had been cultivated properly? Could they have given the Lakers, Blazers, and Kings more of a threat? This Rockets team reminds me of them, with this collection of talented young guys. I hope they can realize their potential as a group. Imagine what this fan base would do if the Rockets actually turned into a group of homegrown winners like the Astros did?