FALCON POINTS

The 5 most likable active athletes in Houston sports

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

When it comes to current athletes in Houston, there is no shortage of likable ones. Yes, the Astros cheating scandal did tarnish a few, but there are still some Astros who are easy to root for. There are also great players like James Harden, but he is a polarizing person. Some fans love him, some just can't root for him. The ones on this list are not only great at their sports, but they make an impact on their community. These are my five favorites based on that criteria. There are certainly many others who could have made this list, but when you limit it to five...

5) Lance McCullers, Astros pitcher: It's easy to forget about McCullers, who missed last season after Tommy John surgery. But he was a key contributor on the 2017 championship team, and had ace stuff before the surgery. It's possible his best years are ahead of him. Off the field, he and wife Kara have long been supporters of stray and homeless animals through the Lance McCullers Foundation. McCullers is active on social media and simply a really likable dude.

4) Carlos Correa, Astros shortstop: Correa has not quite reached the superstar level predicted for him, but he has still been very good, and he is young enough to still reach those heights. He was one of the few Astros to come off as open and honest after the cheating scandal, and he has been instrumental in raising money for Puerto Rico as well as Houston. He has helped distribute beds for children in the city of Houston with Texas Mattress Makers.

3) George Springer, Astros outfielder: Yes, the Astros dominate this list. Springer has been a terrific player, but he has also been an inspiration for stutterers as one himself. He donated money to Astros employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the other two, unless you just hate cheaters, Springer is hard to root against.

2) Derrick Lewis, UFC heavyweight: The 35-year-old "Black Beast" is one of the best heavyweights in the UFC, an exciting fighter who is worth every pay per view penny. He is also charismatic, a terrific interview and an easy guy to like. He also went out after Harvey and pulled an estimated 100 people out of the water with his elevated truck. It's almost impossible not to root for this guy.

1) J.J. Watt, Texans: In a lot of people's minds, Watt can do no wrong in Houston. He has been the best player in franchise history, and his amazing efforts after Harvey were the stuff of legends. His wife, Kealia Ohai Watt, is also a popular athlete, although she no longer plays in the city. Still, they make for a sports power couple. Yes, Watt can occasionally come off the wrong way, and injuries have slowed him in recent years, but in general, he has been one of the highest profile athletes in Houston history and has made unprecedented impacts both on and off the field.

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Just missing out on this list, in order, are Jose Altuve, Justin Verlander, Simone Biles, Deshaun Watson, Russel Westbrook.

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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