Rockets would feel the heat from this bold move, but it's worth it

Which option is better? Composite image by Jack Brame.

After their 130-101 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Houston Rockets stand at 11-13. That puts them 12th in the Western Conference and near the bottom (14th place) in the draft lottery. The only way the Rockets keep their first round pick this year is if it is in the top four. In a rebuilding phase like the Rockets are clearly in, it begs the question: should they compete for a playoff spot, or make moves to tank and get a high draft pick?

On the one hand, Rockets' fans would like to think this team, when fully healthy and all hands on deck, is a playoff contender. They're hoping John Wall stays healthy, Jae'Sean Tate, David Nwaba, Mason Jones, and Sterling Brown all improve enough to make them competitive in the Western Conference this season. They're also banking on Christian Wood's continued growth as a future superstar in the league, while Victor Oladipo progresses as an established star.

On the other hand, some are hoping guys like Oladipo, Wall, and others are traded for future assets and expiring contracts (like Oladipo's). If the Rockets' pick is in the top four selections of the draft, they keep their own pick. In my eyes, this draft isn't shaping up to be much, but a top four pick is better than not having one in any given draft, especially when your team is devoid of talent.

So which option is better? Should the Rockets make a run at a playoff spot? Or should they trade away assets and "tank" to see if they can get and keep a top pick in the draft to help with the rebuild? In my opinion, I think they should trade assets and aim for the draft pick. I highly doubt they make enough of a run in the regular season to make a decent seed. Even if they make the playoffs, it's even more doubtful they will make it out of the first round, which would result in them not having that first round pick to help them rebuild. Add that to the fact that they won't have cap space to offer a max contract free agent a spot, and you get a team in purgatory.

This is why I believe they should tank, get the high draft pick, and have that assist in the rebuild assuming the lottery falls their way. Sure, I'd love to see them in the playoffs, but this team isn't built for a playoff run. Look around at the Western Conference. Can this Rockets team honestly beat the Jazz, Clippers, Lakers, or even the Suns in a seven game series in the first round? If you think so, I have a therapist I can refer you to. While they're only three games out of the fifth seed in the West at this time, I can't see them making any waves. I also don't see them keeping guys around, especially since Oladipo has an expiring contract that could prove very attractive come the trade deadline. Here's to hoping they do the right thing for the team's future, whatever you, or I believe that looks like.

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Carlos Correa had a big home run Saturday night. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With four wins in a row, including the first two of this series, Houston had a chance to keep their momentum going to lock up a series win on Saturday in this four-game set. Although Texas would make it interesting late, the Astros would hold them off to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 5

Astros' Record: 23-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia (1-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dane Dunning (2-3)

Action in the first

After getting trounced the night prior, the Rangers managed to grab early momentum with a run to start the scoring Saturday night against Luis Garcia. It came after a one-out triple set up a sac fly, giving Texas a 1-0 lead. Houston quickly took control back in their favor, though, putting up four in the bottom of the inning on a two-RBI single by Alex Bregman and a two-run homer by Carlos Correa, making it 4-1 Astros.

The scoreboard went quiet after that inning, with both teams slowing down at the plate. Garcia put together a decent night, allowing just the one run over five innings of work, erasing some runners throughout the night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 94 P.

Rangers tighten it up late

Bryan Abreu was the first reliever to enter for Houston, taking over for Garcia in the top of the sixth. He worked around a leadoff single, keeping it a three-run game, then returned for a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. Correa led off with a double in the bottom of the inning, setting up a two-run Kyle Tucker homer, extending his recent hot streak and the lead to 6-1.

Ryne Stanek took over on the mound for Houston in the top of the eighth but worked himself into trouble with a single and walk to set up a three-run homer by Joey Gallo to make it a two-run game at 6-4. He would manage just one out before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Brandon Bielak. Bielak would allow a run while getting the final two outs, making it 6-5.

Astros secure the series

After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Ryan Pressly would try to notch another save and close the door on the Rangers. He would get the job done, sitting the Rangers down in order, keeping Houston's winning streak intact.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game set will start at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Lance McCullers JR. (3-1, 3.10 ERA), fresh off of a recent gem, will look to continue his success for the Astros, while Kyle Gibson (3-0, 2.28) will try to stay perfect on the season for the Rangers.

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