It’s our first response edition of the TDS Mailbag. Ray Lucas Jr. is on point for this one, taking Houston Rockets questions. We are always taking your inquiries, so be sure to send anything in you’d like us to tackle to email@example.com or simply fill out the google form at the bottom of the article. - DY
Q: While understanding the policy regarding youth, don’t you think playing John Wall or some veterans would a) help better develop the young guys b) give them great confidence, and c) get us some W’s, which helps the fans? His trade value may go up if he plays. - FEZWITCH
I 100% believe that John Wall helps the Rockets in all aspects and I also agree that his value goes up if he plays. However, I think Houston is having their young backcourt of KPJ and Green learn through the fire by having to figure things out themselves rather than having a vet to lean on. Personally, I wouldn’t do that but I guess it’s why I’m a writer and not working in a front office.
They’ve made choices that have shown they are comfortable for now with not improving their roster since they are comfortable with losing and I think not having Wall on the floor is just another example of that. It might work, it might not but the best part about sports is that we’ll find out.
Q: The worst team gets the best pick….who are the front runners on the college circuit? - RetiredCoach
The two guys that have received the most praise are without question Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren (7’0”, 195 lbs) and Duke’s Paolo Banchero (6’10”, 250 lbs). I have a biased preference for Banchero since we both are from the Seatle area but you can build your own opinion on November 26th when they battle on ESPN at 9:30 P.M. CT - maybe I’ll break down some film from each of them after that game and how they can help the Rockets?
Johnny Juzang is listed on ESPN as a 6’7 guard who I think may end up playing the 3 at the next level. He only scored 11 points on 5-11 shooting last night against the Zags and I haven’t seen him high on many big boards but he’s a really talented player for UCLA.
Q: Is Eric Gordan going to be traded soon? He should have a chance on a contender. - William
Will he be traded? My prediction is yes. Will it be soon? Probably not.
I’d imagine that his value will peak as the deadline gets closer because that’s when contenders have a better idea of if they need to make a move or not, and as that deadline gets closer the more desperate they get. A desperate trade partner is going to drastically sweeten the deal for Houston because at that point a team is willing to go all in to win a title.
Q: As you guys know, I’m not very bullish on the season so far. What are your views on a 1. Realistic, 2. Optimistic end-of-season progression (knowing what we know now). What benchmarks should we have for our young (and experienced in Wood/Tate to some extent) players? - VBG
I think that realistically, progression in these Rockets will be seen most in how much they are able to tone down mental errors like turnovers. I don’t think their struggles in that category are a matter of ability but rather a product of unfamiliarity. As the players grow increasingly comfortable alongside their teammates I expect the offense as a whole to look much more smooth because they’ll have that chemistry, coaches will (should) have rotations figured out and overall there will just be much more of an understanding as a unit.
Optimistically I’d say to look for them to eventually start to rattle off short 3-game or 4-game win streaks. This team has talent but is doomed by the turnovers along with poor free-throw shooting, if they are able to clean those up then that makes the difference between winning and losing those tight games. I put this under optimistic because you never know which players might get injured or if they decide to trade a guy like Christian Wood to boost the rebuild; making it hard to call win streaks realistic.
In my eyes, here are what we should look for at the end of the season in the core guys.
KPJ - how aggressive he is on the offensive end and if he’s processing the game better which is seen by him not forcing passes. Green - his aggressiveness on offense but also how assertive he is in getting his touches, sometimes you have to demand the ball. Sengun- how many minutes he’s playing by the end of the year because if he’s in top-notch shape and not fouling then we’ll see a whole lot of him. Tate - How reliable he is on the offensive end and his ability to score when needed, especially from range. Wood - If he takes a jump and starts being the “man” every night for this team because that’s who he should be.
Submit questions for next week’s mailbag at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply fill out this form!