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Let's discuss some important post All-Star break expectations for Rockets

It's about the journey. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The NBA is taking its annual All-Star Game break. No, this isn't the mid-point of the season as most teams have less than 30 games left to play in their 82-game schedules. Teams will resume playing on Thursday evening. As of this writing, the Rockets own the third-worst record in the league. That puts them in position to have yet another shot at one of the top picks in the upcoming draft with their own first round pick. The other first rounder they have will come from the Nets or Heat, whichever is higher, but it's top 14 protected.

Let's be honest for a minute. Having the third-worst record in the league is a good thing...but only if it lands them a top three pick in the draft lottery. This team is in rebuild mode. The best way to rebuild is to stockpile top draft picks and hopefully hit on them. No quality free agents want to come be a part of a rebuilding process. Once the Rockets get to the tipping point between irrelevancy and being consistent playoff contenders, then they'll be able to attract a top free agent that can help put them over.

That being said, I'm still looking forward to what this team will do after the break. Why? Because I'm enjoying watching the journey. Sure, they may not be winning as much as people would like, but watching them grow as players and as a team will pay off when they're fighting for playoff positioning. Jalen Green is a special talent with freaky athletic ability. Alperen Sengun has the game to be a perfect pair with Green. Kevin Porter Jr has similar potential to Green. Christian Wood is still on the roster, despite calls for him to be traded, and has grown into his contract. Ask him, and he's exceeded it. Whether he's here for the long term remains to be seen. He'll be a building block whether he's here playing, or he nets a decent return in a trade.

Watching this team requires the knowledge that they more than likely won't win. What I look for is player development. Do they play the pick and roll properly on offense and defense? How do they communicate and rotate on defense? Are they taking good shots? Meaning: are they taking too many contested fallaway threes, or are they taking more open looks? Are they limiting turnovers? Growth takes place over time. It also involves repetition. Repetition comes with playing time and practice.

We'll be able to tell if this young team is putting in the work when we see them play. Over time, we should see them improve in different facets of their game. With a team this young, how they perform in crunch time of a close game is another sign. Dealing with the adversity of another losing season is huge as well. Those are signs you see from players who are mentally tough and know what a marathon the season, and a successful career, truly is.

Is this team worth watching? Absolutely. Will it be all fun and games? Not at all. Those who love the game of basketball, especially this team, will watch no matter what. Casual fans won't because the team isn't winning. Now is the time to get to know this squad. They're young, talented, and have potential to grow into a playoff contender. Give these kids a shot. They'll entertain you for sure, just don't expect too many wins...for now.

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