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3 critical factors that will determine long-term success for Rockets

The Rockets have won 6-straight games. Composite image by Jack Brame.

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?

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ROCKETS FALL TO WARRIORS

Critical takeaways from Rockets' 105-103 loss to Warriors

Rockets fall short against Warriors. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

This wasn't the typical Houston Rockets-Golden St. Warriors game when Mike D' Antoni and Steve Kerr were having an offensive battle of wits. James Harden, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, was nowhere in sight for the Rockets Friday night. Although the Rockets are in rebuild mode, it was still an interesting game. The intensity was high throughout the entire game. Emotions between Stephen Silas and Kerr were heavy, as they were yelling and jumping up-and-down along the sidelines.

A series of runs and back-and-forth scoring gave a slight reminder of the old rivalry between the Warriors and Rockets. Steph Curry was having a tough game, but with 5.1 seconds left, he was able to create great separation from a step back and drained an incredible midrange shot over Kevin Porter Jr. It was heartbreaking because Porter played great defense on Curry throughout the entire game, with Curry only making 6 out of 22 shots. Porter had a tremendous first-half defensively on Curry and recorded an 88.9 defensive rating. Porter had a good feel for guarding Curry, he didn't allow himself to switch away from him. He anticipated passing lanes and ripped Curry a couple of times.

Besides Porter playing great defense, the Rockets played good as a whole. They finished with 10 steals. Their main technique was to switch everything on defense, and Kenyon Martin Jr. and Christian Wood did a good job. It's never easy staying in front of Curry and Jordan Poole, but if they could hold their ground for five seconds, it became possible. Porter did a great job at times by communicating on defense, so he could tell Jalen Green and Eric Gordon when to switch.

And speaking of Green--- he had a strange night offensively. He went 0-11 from the field but made two great plays in the fourth quarter. Instead of Silas keeping Green on the bench because of his cold hand, he kept him in the game for learning purposes. Green made an outstanding play on Curry at the 2:52 mark in the 4th quarter. Before that, he missed a shot from three but fought hard for the rebound, then found a cutting Wood towards the rim. Green might of struggled, but the effort was there.

This was a tough loss for the Rockets, but they are steadily improving. The Rockets are 3-5 in their last five games.

Up next: The Rockets face the Spurs on Tuesday night.

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