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These things must happen for the Rockets to be successful this season

The Rockets need things to fall in place so they can have a successful season.

Miami Heat v Houston Rockets Photo by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

The Houston Rockets have just wrapped up preseason, which they finished 1-3. Preseason doesn’t matter because it’s just practice for this young core. As we’ve seen, Jalen Green is still trying to figure out the actions to his offense and where he needs to be, so he doesn’t look complacent. Green has shown moments when has figured things out on offense versus the Spurs and Raptors, as Coach Silas loves a thousand actions in one to keep the defense off balance.

Jalen Green must shoot better

Green has looked impressive in catch-and-shoot screens while being chased by defenders, but overall Green is shooting just 23.4 percent from three off 6.5 attempts per game. It’s not a huge sample size, but it’s better for Green to make more than 34 percent per game at the guard position. As Green understands the NBA defenses, he’ll accelerate much faster. He is still trying to learn the curves of the NBA, as he said:

“I think everything is a learning experience. Every time you get on that court, you learn something that you didn’t know before, that you could have done better. These past two games, I’m just learning the spots on defense and the offense, where to attack and stuff like that. I think Toronto was probably the hardest defense that we had. That was our first time seeing that this year. It’s early. We still have a lot to figure out. I think we’re going to be good, though.”

Green is still trying to operate around the lane closures and physicality of other NBA defenses. He understands how important his jump shot is in the NBA, as Green is only making 34 percent from the field while averaging 13.3 points per game in 28 minutes of play (40 percent from midrange). Green’s aggressiveness has helped him attack the basket at his smaller size. If Green was bigger, he could force his way into lane closures. Luckily, he is averaging 54 percent when attacking the rim. Thankfully, Green is athletic and skilled enough to blow by his defender if struggling from shooting the ball.

KPJ must develop

Kevin Porter Jr. must become better on defense but has shown signs of having quick hands (1.3 steals per game). Porter is looking comfortable as the point guard for the Rockets. He is running sets while understanding scoring is still important and being aggressive towards the rim, which creates free throw opportunities. It’s entertaining to see Porter build a relationship with Daniel Theis and Christian Wood for pick-and-roll purposes. Porter understand his big man’s rim running responsibilities, as he never forgets his teammates in the corner if open. Hopefully, Porter continues to get better as a playmaker when the season starts.

Find a starting small forward

Besides Porter and Green, the Rockets are missing another substance on the team, and it’s at the shooting-forward position. Jae’ Sean Tate fits better with the second unit, as he is more reliable off the bench with the naked eye. He’ll be able to control the offense as a point forward because of his versatility at 6’4”. Almost a slight reminder of what Phil Jackson had envisioned for Lamar Odom on the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008-2009. Eric Gordon has a hard time staying healthy but could be traded this season or next.

Danuel House Jr. is not the player spectators envisioned after signing a three-year $13 million dollar deal in 2019. His three-point shooting and field goal percentage decreased over the last two seasons. In preseason this year, House is averaging 2.3 points per game in 18 minutes. Shockingly, House made the team over Dante Exum, as Exum was cut Saturday. The Rockets’ front office probably have respect for House’s length and athleticism. He had a slight chance of getting an extension, but it probably won’t happen. It would be hard to trade House unless it’s in a package, as his value is fast declining. Rafael Stone had a better chance of trading him this past off-season.

The Rockets could easily groom Josh Christopher for the shooting forward position because of his upside on defense and offense and size, as he is averaging 9.5 points per game while shooting 48.3 percent from the field. Christopher’s offensive rating is 107.4 while his defensive rating is 100.8, which is good for a rookie in 13.4 minutes of play. He will have more time to observe and learn this season while sitting on the bench most of the time. That could solve the Rockets’ problems at that position.

If this young Rockets’ core figures things out, this could be a 35-40 game win season. But no surprises if they win between 18-25 games because of defense, as they struggled with that in the preseason.