3 jump-out-the-gym reasons you should be watching the young gun Rockets

Get ready for a high-flying season! Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

"Light the fuse" is the Rockets' marketing slogan for this season. Teams come up with one of these slogans every year in order to build a campaign around said slogan in order to sell tickets and merch. Realistically speaking, this fuse may take a while to burn and pay off. However, the future is bright enough to have positive hope. There are a few things to look at and look forward to right now. Let's take a look and a few things to key in on this preseason that may lead to some things to look forward to in the upcoming season:

The new backcourt: Kevin Porter Jr and Jalen Green are the future in the backcourt for this team. KPJ was a steal in a trade last season from the Cavs. He had several moments last season, including a 50 point game, that warranted him getting a second chance in Houston despite the rocky start to his career in Cleveland. Green is the hot shot number two overall pick with unlimited potential. He's a scorer who needs to develop and unlock parts of his game that haven't been developed yet. These two guys are the Batman and Robin of the Rockets' future. Watching how they play together and how their chemistry is building will give a glimpse into the future of what this team can possibly do.

Supporting cast: Christian Wood is seen as one of the building blocks for this young team, but rumors of his poor attitude coupled with the known fact that he wants a max extension make him a candidate to either be traded, or not re-signed. Alperen Sengun (the second of the four first round picks taken in this past draft) makes Wood somewhat expendable if he can develop his game and adjust to the NBA. The Turkish rookie has the skill set most teams are looking for from their bigs nowadays (shooting, passing, rebounding). Josh Christopher and Usman Garuba were the other two first rounders. Christopher has a chance to be a scoring spark off the bench, while Garuba can be a defensive presence. Jae'Sean Tate and Kenyon Martin Jr are two holdovers from last year that look to figure prominently in the future of this team.

The rotation: An underestimated part of watching preseason basketball is seeing what guys will be in the regular season rotation. Most teams will use 8-10 guys every game. Preseason gives the coaches a chance to see who works well together and which guys deserve to start, come off the bench, the roles they'll play, and who gets more minutes. Lineups and rotations of course can change. Minutes will be dictated by who has the hot hand and matchups so they'll vary from night to night. One thing that stays consistent will be the group of guys getting the most playing time.

The Rockets have a very young team. They'll be fun to watch because of their overall athletic ability to produce highlights. Will they threaten for a playoff spot? Most likely they won't, unless it's one of the last play-in spots. This will prompt most casual fans to drop. I'd encourage them to stay. This young group seems to be having fun together. If they enjoy each other this much and can build & grow together, it'll make them the next up and coming, must-watch team in the league. I say watch and get to know these guys now, rather than looking to hop on the bandwagon after it gets rolling.

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Jeremy Pena could have some big shoes to fill. Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images.

MLB and the MLBPA are embroiled in yet another labor dispute. The owners and players have both dug in their heels and refuse to budge. No end is in site for the lockout as Spring Training is drawing more and more near each passing day. So what does that mean for our 2022 Astros' season?

One sigh of relief came when Justin Verlander signed his new deal. Two years for $50 million dollars isn't bad at all. Factor in he's closer to my age than my son (coming off Tommy John surgery), and some may worry. Not me. He's the closest thing to Tom Brady MLB has seen since Nolan Ryan. Jim Crane and James Click did a great job bringing him back. His spot as the ace with the rest of the staff they have should help shore up the bullpen if one or two starters can make that transition. I know I said I didn't want him back a few months ago, but time has passed, and wounds have been healed.

When it comes to Carlos Correa, I'm growing more and more comfortable with the thought that he may not be back. I talked about his potential replacement months ago. Maybe the reason being is that the club loves Jeremy Peña at that same position, and Pedro Leon could also factor in. Plus, Peña is tearing the cover off the ball in the winter leagues.

At 24 years old, turning 25 in September, he'll be under team control for the foreseeable future. That truly depends on the new labor agreement. So does Correa's new contract. His contract will be largely based on the parameters set in the new labor agreement, since he didn't sign before the lockout took place. And now we know that contact will be negotiated by Correa's new agent, Scott Boras.

I'm all for the doom and gloom when it comes to an MLB labor issue because they've historically screwed over fans. The most notable and egregious was the '94 World Series being canceled. However, there's way too much money at stake right now. More money than ever to be exact. That said, it's precisely why there's a dispute. That, and the fact that the owners have always gotten over on fans and players, and the players are poised to get their just due.

When the season starts, the Astros should be contenders yet again. Don't look for them to come out the gate firing on all cylinders as this team may look a bit different. Guys may not be fully ready after a lockout and there will be some roster turnover. The bulk of the core will be here, ready, and healthy. Whether Correa is a part of that group remains to be seen. Am I concerned? Hell no! This team has enough to fill that void at least partially and will have either guy under team control for a while. Think about this upcoming season as the time you fixed up your older car. New tires, headlights restored, rims polished, inside made over, and a fresh coat of paint after the transmission rebuild. It still has over 150,000 miles on it, but you wouldn't trade it in for anything because it still runs well and has sentimental value. You know one day it'll give out and need to be put out to pasture, but you're holding on and riding until the wheels fall off. Enjoy Astro fans, because the ride will be over one day. Hopefully much later than sooner.

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