Why these Houston Rockets Summer League hot takes need to stop!
Every year, in every sport, there's an offseason. Every year, in every sport, there's some sort of rookie draft. And every year, there are some superlatives placed on said rookies to one end or the other. They're either proclaimed to be a future Hall of Famer, or they're the next biggest bust. Fans overreact. Haters do too. But when the media does it, that sends things into overdrive? Why? Because too many of you will take the opinion of a media member and pass it along as an unquestionable fact. Once that gets cycled enough times, people stop asking questions and assume it's all real because they've heard it too many times from too many places. This is far too common in sports.
Here we are in the midst of the NBA's Summer League (the annual showcase of rookies and young players post-draft) and it's happening again! The Rockets' rookies are getting it from different sides. Most specifically Jabari Smith Jr and Tari Eason. The numbers three and seventeen overall picks respectively in this past draft have garnered the most talk on the team this year. While the talk about Eason has been overly positive, most of the talk about Smith Jr hasn't. The extremes have gone from Eason being the next great two-way player, to Smith Jr being an average role player that got over drafted.
Could two things be true. Absolutely. Are these two extremes true? Hell naw! Eason is a really good player. He could end up being the steal of this draft. Smith Jr isn't nearly as bad as those opinions would have you think. They've both had their moments to shine and not look so good. Eason has had more consistent performances (a double-double in all three games so far), but Smith Jr has shined as well. Smith Jr has shown the IQ on the defensive end that made him a threat to be taken number one overall. His offensive repertoire has been on display, but hasn't fully been put out there for all to see. Eason has shown his hustle and all-around ability. His scrappy, yet athletic style will fit right in on this team. Both guys have the ability to contribute on the court, and be a presence on both ends.
The effusive praise and overwhelming criticism have got to stop. These guys are playing against players who may not even make the G League. Sure, there are fellow rookies out there, but most of the Summer League rosters are camp bodies (players brought in to fill preseason rosters and burn reps). Giving a gold jacket to a preseason Hall of Famer is a saying in the NFL. One can look very good playing against lower-level competition. The key is to observe a player's skill set and see how it can translate to minutes in the rotation when playing alongside and against much better competition. I have no doubt both of these guys will contribute to the Rockets' success the next few years. So will Josh Christopher, who's been a star in the Summer League for the Rockets. We have to give these kids a chance. Too many of us are conditioned to the microwave dinner and have lost sight of the home-cooked meal. That home-cooked meal is full of love and ingredients you know where they all came from for the most part. Those microwave meals are loaded with fats and all kinds of bad stuff for you. One gives you instant fulfillment, while the other takes your gratification on a journey before the payoff. Not everything comes in the stroke of a few keys on your phone. Some things have to be built by hand.