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All the reasons Houston's next Jack Easterby could be working for Rockets

This doesn't look good. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Houston pro sports teams used to have a trio of some of the best and brightest front office minds in the three major pro sports. Darryl Morey of the Rockets, Jeff Luhnow of the Astros, and...well, two out of three ain't so bad. I mean, Rick Smith of the Texans was competent. He did some good things. Brian Gaine followed him, but he barely got the chance to do anything. Morey and Luhnow built contenders, with Luhnow bringing home a title in 2017.

The walls came crashing down on all three franchises. The Astros, Rockets, and Texans had to hit the reset button to a certain extent. The Astros hired a promising young general manager in James Click who had a history of doing good work with the Rays who were built through the draft. The Texans and Rockets however, hired guys who don't really have experience. The Texans didn't technically put Jack Easterby in charge of football operations, but he's been the assumed puppet master behind their moves. He's been an operations intern, character coach, chaplain, executive vice president of team development before being named executive vice president of football operations.

Rafael Stone has seemingly had the same ascent up the ladder that Easterby has. Stone has a political science and history degree, then got a law degree. He worked in the Rockets' legal department before being named general manager. If you listen to ESPN Houston's The Press Box, you'll know exactly how Joel Blank feels about Stone. As someone who worked in the Rockets' organization for over 20 years, Joel knows the inner workings. When someone like him feels some type of way about Stone, I tend to believe him. Besides, would you promote a lawyer to be the general manager without any background in basketball operations outside of sitting in on some meetings?

The difference between the two is that Easterby was smart enough to hire Nick Caserio to be the Texans' general manager to be in control of the roster moves and contracts. Stone is in charge of that for the Rockets himself. He was even arrogant enough to say he'd "for sure, 100 percent, do that deal again" when referring to the James Harden trade. He also said that we should wait until 2030 to judge the trade. One guy hasn't been heard from in Easterby, while the other is gloating. Both have taken unconventional paths to run their organizations. Both have been seen as at least part of the reason/problem why their franchises are in rebuild mode as of now.

One guy is smart enough to cover and insulate himself, but the other feels very cavalier about his position. They're both in top spots and shouldn't be there. They both have seemingly used backdoor tactics to attain those tops spots. I believe Easterby has staying power because of his character coach/chaplain background. Stone will most likely end up a casualty of war when the team is ready to compete again. Either that, or he'll be fired before he screws anything up too badly. These two guys have a lot in common. Unfortunately for Houston sports fans, they look like they'll be here for a while now.

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The Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

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