On a Saturday afternoon, the Houston Rockets hosted an introductory press conference for Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba, and Josh Christopher. The last time the Rockets had an introductory meeting for a first-round pick, it was Sam Dekker in 2015. This was an exciting moment for the organization after a troubling season in which they were 17-55. Rafael Stone had a huge smile on his face throughout the press conference.
Stone discussed how these four players can adapt to this Rockets’ roster, as they already have younger players on the roster. He said:
“We have players on our team that we are already excited about, and I think this crew will fit in fine with that group. We’re going to be really young and exciting and that’s the direction we’re going and hopefully, it leads to a quick turn around.”
Stephan Silas couldn’t be there because of safety and health regulations due to COVID-19, while Garuba is playing for Spain in the Olympics.
Although Silas wasn’t there, Green said that Coach Silas wants him to lock in on defense, which Stone also mentioned. “We’re going to work on that D,” jokes Stone as he looks over at Jalen. “But the effort is there.” Green does have the potential to be a great two-way player, as his NBA career continues.
Green showed his excitement about being part of the Rockets’ franchise and thanked Stone for selecting him on draft night. Green said:
“I don’t think it’s hit me yet. It will probably hit me when we get into practice. That feeling walking the stage was crazy. I kind of blacked out. It’s a surreal moment.
Silas even broke down the strategy to Green for next season.
“That feeling was amazing. They [Rockets] get out and play to their strengths. They play hard. Coach Silas was telling me that their main focus was getting out there, and really locking in on defense and keep their same thing on offense and I think I fit really well into their offense.”
Alperen Sengun, the 6’10” versatile big man from Turkey, is ready for the scenery of Houston and new challenges of the NBA. He dominated the Turkish League by averaging 19 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals throughout his season. He even shot a whopping effort of 64 percent from the field, including being the MVP. Stone said, “”We did not think he would fall to us at 23 so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him.” Sengun mentioned:
“First of all, I’m very excited that I’m in Houston. Last year with Besiktas, my former team, I used to play with the younger players and young kids, and this will be like this year as well. And again, I’m very excited.”
Josh Christopher had a celebrated night after he was drafted by the Rockets and continued his happiness throughout the press conference. He was astonished about walking inside of Toyota Center for the first time. Christopher said:
“I’m here! Walking into the arena, I’m like, I’m really here. Just when I got my named called, I’m like, I’m really going to the NBA. Its everything you worked for.”
Christopher had an incredible season with Arizona State, as he was a projected lottery pick before his collegiate career. With the Sun Devils, he averaged 14 points per game while having 1.5 steals. He even shot 49 percent from the field.
Christopher is described as a streaky shooter but particularly lives in midrange, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the arc. Stone loves his defense and the ability to attack downhill.
Above-average things that stood out about Josh Christopher: "Josh is a problem. When he's going downhill it's a wrap. He can really handle the ball. Given that he's 19, but he's a man when he's coming at you...On the ball defensively, I think he has a chance to be truly special." pic.twitter.com/jcMCBALcRh— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) July 30, 2021
The most exciting thing about yesterday was Christopher and Green had already played together on AAU team in Texas. Their workouts were on the same day with the Rockets. They briefly discussed a situation that they imagined playing on the same team together. Stone was asked if that led him to picking Christopher on draft night, and he said “No”. Green and Christopher said:
“Me and Josh kind of talked about it, but we didn’t know if it was going to be true or not.”
“I had no clue.”
Jalen Green and Josh Christopher on the same team again— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) July 30, 2021
The media also found out that Sengun and Garuba are buddies from overseas and texted each other the same night that they were drafted. Segun said:
“We played against each other three times on the national teams and been talking throughout the season and messaging each other. And Garuba had an amazing season with us in the Euro league. When he drafted to Houston, he messaged me, and we talked a lot.”
Even though Garuba wasn’t there, Stone did mention that he is a great defender. He mentioned that a previous night before. Stone said:
“I think he’s the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he’s just 19 years old. I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball.”
Coach Silas wants Green to be his self while playing inside of his offense. He loves the fact that Green is a straight shooter and can score at all three levels.
“I like how he [Silas] keeps it real and lets his guys be his self. That was the main thing he had told me in the beginning was to be myself and that’s what had intrigued me the most. And that’s what intrigues me the most. And on top of that, he is a basketball head, and he knows what he is talking about.”
Kevin Porter Jr. and KJ Martin called Green and Christopher on facetime to share the excitement that night. Martin played against Christopher in high school and seen Green inside of the bubble with Porter. Porter and Green have kept in touch before the draft via social media because of potentially playing with each other. Green:
“Right before I walked the stage with my family, KPJ hit me and told me to live in the moment. KJ hit me too so he could tell me congrats.”
Everybody is ecstatic to see the combo of Green and Porter for the season coming up. Green and Porter will have spectators on their toes for the upcoming season. Green was asked about they’re relationship and how they could get along. Green said:
“We kind of talked a little bit while I was in high school. We’re not really super close. We started talking ever since the draft. We started going on that path, but I think he is super electric, he has a great game, great IQ, and I kind of match that intensity and style of play and I think it can be a killer backcourt.”
Green is the number two pick of draft and knows the accomplishments he wants to capture. His goal is to help the Rockets get back to the playoffs and become a cornerstone player in the NBA.
Green says he sets high expectations for himself and understands what comes with being the No.2 pick, attention and all.— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) July 30, 2021
“I’ve been in this situation since I was 14. I got my head on tight.”
Hopefully, the Rockets’ future goes as planned with the four new draft picks.