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Red Light - Rockets fall to Magic

No Jalens, no joy.

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Orlando Magic v Houston Rockets
Never met a shot he didn’t like?
Photo by Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images

Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to say about a VSL game.

The Rockets and the Magic were without the 2nd and 5th pick in this year’s draft, respectively. Both Jalen Green, and Jalen Suggs have had good Summer League outings, and both are now missing games, mostly as a precaution for minor injuries.

The Rockets, however, didn’t appear to build their Summer League team with anything other than “Get the first rounders and our likely back of the roster guys on the court.” in mind.

The Magic seem a bit more complete. They had some guards, and moreover seemed to be content to send a parade of large, reasonably competent, old-style bigs rumbling down the lane, to bumble into defenders and shoot FTs. They must really miss Vooch.

On the Rockets side, Jalen Green, Khyri Thomas, Armoni Brooks, weren’t available, and the team therefore lacked any coherent guard play. Josh Christopher may be called a guard, but aside from an adequate handle, he doesn’t play much like one, in terms of facilitating, or shooting. His judgment isn’t that of a point guard, and his play as one really makes one appreciate Eric Gordon’s smooth and canny abilities as a primary ballhandler.

The Rockets no doubt noticed this problem in their blowout loss to the Raptors and thus brought in Tremont Waters, the 2020 GLeague Rookie of The Year, no less. Their attempt to establish some guard play wasn’t... entirely successful.

Waters looked like they pulled him in from a family picnic, where he’d been drinking margaritas and eating BBQ chicken all day.

So if you imagine this same picnicking GLeague player, having no experience with the team whatsoever, and moreover appearing in town less than 48 hours ago (I presume) and what that might look like - you’d likely be correct.

The Rockets turned the ball over 23 times in 40 game minutes of action. Waters had five, and Christopher seven. Christopher might be able to play a plausible off guard someday, but today is not that day. At present he’s basically an on ball defender who has a long way to go towards making his elite defense and athletic ability worthwhile in the NBA.

We’ll see if the Rockets can’t get things a bit more together for their VSL “playoff” game. Waters showed flashes of being a point guard. If the Rockets could combine point guard play with some sort of plan to not have Alperen Sengun attack the basket off a dribble handoff at the 3pt line, things could look better.

That said, Goon Squad still had 13 points on 5-10 shooting, 10 rebounds (5 offensive) 3 assists, 1 steal and 3 blocks.

There’s not a lot more to say, other than Usman Garuba looked more lively than his first outing, but still not the player he was in Spain. He nonetheless recorded 8 rebounds in 17 minutes. He’s really strong and solid, physically, for a 19 year old.

The very young Rockets will take on the very old (ANCIENT for VSL) Portland Trailblazers next.

32 year old Michael Beasley is on the Trailblazers Vegas squad. (Along with Kenneth Faried, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Jordon Crawford, all well past 30). To put this Blazer try out team in some context, Beasley was in the 2008 NBA draft, where he went 2nd, after Derrick Rose. Other players in that draft include Russell Westbrook, the Lopii, Eric Gordon, Nic Batum, Kevin Love, D’Andre Jordan, and a few more who are still knocking around the NBA, and many more who are long gone.

The Rockets first round picks would have been five to seven years old in 2008.

The game is Tuesday at 4pm CST on NBAtv. It’s likely Beasley has significantly more NBA minutes than the entire Rockets VSL team, but I haven’t looked it up.

We’ll see how that goes.



This poll is closed

  • 28%
    It’d be more fun with Green.
    (80 votes)
  • 11%
    There’s more GLeague in the Rockets first rounders’ future than I previously thought.
    (32 votes)
  • 2%
    Jalen Green might spend his entire rookie salary on clothes.
    (8 votes)
  • 20%
    Sengun needs the ball in the post.
    (58 votes)
  • 31%
    All of the above.
    (89 votes)
  • 4%
    Mark Cuban has offered Jason Kidd’s sartorial services to all NBA rookies.
    (13 votes)
280 votes total Vote Now