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

Rockets Alperen Şengün, Jalen Green, Christian Wood
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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CJ Stroud and Will Anderson Jr both made the list. Composite Getty Image.

Coming off a surprising playoff run with a rookie quarterback in 2023, expectations couldn't be higher for the Houston Texans heading into 2024.

CBS Sports' Pete Prisco recently put his 2024 NFL Top 100 players list together, which includes six Texans players. Here's how Prisco has them ranked, and his outlook for the season.

No. 99 Edge Rusher Will Anderson Jr.

Just squeezing in the Top 100 is the Defensive Rookie of the Year, Will Anderson. “He was the Defensive Rookie of the Year after getting seven sacks. But he was much more than those sack numbers and his talent shows a player who can take a big jump to 12-15 sacks this season,” said Prisco.

No. 80 Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.

Next on the list is ballhawking corner Derek Stingley Jr. Prisco weighed in on Houston's standout defensive back. “After a disappointing 2022 rookie season, he flashed star potential last year for the Texans. He is a long corner who is capable of matching up in coverage with the game's best receivers.”

No. 77 Wide Receiver Nico Collins

This is where we see the first offensive player makes the list. Prisco shares his thoughts on Houston's top pass catcher. “After having 70 catches in his first two seasons, he had his breakout season in 2023 with 80 catches and a 16.2 yard-per-catch average. He is truly a big-play threat who should continue to grow with quarterback C.J. Stroud.”

No. 57 Left Tackle Laremy Tunsil

Prisco adds another offensive player to his list here. “He is one of the best in the league in pass protection, which is great news for C.J. Stroud. His ability to hold up in one-on-one situations is key to their offense,” said Prisco.

No. 38 Quarterback CJ Stroud

Can Stroud deliver an impressive sophomore season? “He was special as a rookie, leading the Texans to the playoffs. Now comes the hard part: Doing it again. I don't think that will be a problem because he has the look of being a star for a long time,” said Prisco.

No. 35 Danielle Hunter

The final player to make the list is the Texans' prized offseason addition. “He had 16 1/2 sacks for the Vikings last season, continuing to be a force off the edge. In Houston, he will team with Will Anderson Jr. to give the Texans a nice duo of pass rushers,” Prisco said.

One glaring omission is Texans superstar receiver Stefon Diggs. Diggs had a down year in 2023 based on his standards. But don't be surprised if Diggs makes this list next year after a bounce back season with Stroud pulling the trigger at QB. And he'll be highly motivated, with the possibility of another mega-contract in sight.


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