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NBA Summer League: Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun show promise in win vs. Cavaliers

These Rockets are almost ready for liftoff.

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Houston Rockets v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The Houston Rockets unleashed its secret weapons for the first time Sunday afternoon on the first day of Las Vegas Summer League, and it made a big splash in the team’s 84-76 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

While it is merely Summer League, a win is a win and the Rockets should be happy with its performance this evening.

Some Rockets flashed major potential, while others revealed what parts of their game needed improvement.

Here’s a look at all the Rockets that took the floor today and a brief analysis of their performances today:

Jalen Green - 23 points, 5 rebounds, 9/18 FGM (4/9 3PM)

Green proved today why he was worth the second overall pick in the draft. The dude is a certified hooper.

He was able to prove that he can score at all three levels: three-point, mid-range, and driving into the lane.

He’s also got a stepback to his game that is reminiscent of a former bearded Rocket:

I wouldn’t say Green came to Las Vegas with something to prove, but he’s definitely given Rockets fans a ton of reasons for optimism.

Alperen Sengun - 15 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise from today’s game was the Turkish MVP, who did not waste any time making his mark in the game.

He had the ball often in the paint and drew seven fouls, four in the first quarter. He lived at the free throw line and had plenty of conversations with the ball about who knows what.

The 16th overall pick also shined on the defensive end, including this block that led to two points on the other end that began Houston’s turnaround late in the second quarter.

Sengun still has room to grow on both ends of the floor, but there’s no question that he belongs in the NBA and will see a good amount of playing time this season.

Josh Christopher - 13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists

It was a rough start for Christopher, who found himself lost in the paint and coughing the ball up a few times early on. But once he settled down, Christopher found himself to be a positive force on the defensive end.

Perhaps my favorite play of him all day came when he stole the ball from Evan Mobley and created points on the fast break.

It’s definitely not the best game we’ll see from Christopher, but it could have been a lot worse. There was also a segment the ESPN broadcast showed of his communication on the floor and he sounds like a leader, which is so rare coming from a 19 year old playing in his first pro game.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what Christopher has up his sleeve for the rest of the week.

KJ Martin - 17 points, 3 rebounds, 3/8 3PM


Aside from that, Martin showed an improved three-point shot and a knack to continue to be active on both ends of the floor.

He also showed how lethal a pick-and-roll combination between him and Green can be.

Khyri Thomas - 10 points, 2/10 FGM

Thomas started off the game strong but struggled to find his shot throughout the game. He currently holds the final roster spot on the 15-man roster and he has not done anything to outright give that spot away.

We’ll definitely see better from Thomas and the opportunities to prove himself will continue to surface as the week continues.

Bench: Matthew Hurt, Anthony Lamb, Marcus Foster

Overall, there wasn’t too much to note from these three.

Matthew Hurt, the occupant of one of the team’s two-way contract, looked lost on both ends of the floor for most of his 13 minutes.

Anthony Lamb was a positive on the defensive end, but gave very little on offense, finishing the game with two points on 1/5 shooting.

Marcus Foster’s minutes likely would have gone to Armoni Brooks had Brooks not been in the league’s health and safety protocols after being a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Foster was simply a few steps behind the rest of the guys tonight and I’m not sure if he’ll be able to catch up.

Outside of the bench, all five starters gave you a reason to be excited today as a Rockets fan, and it’s a feeling that we haven’t had since this time a year ago when the team was competing in the bubble playoffs.

But this feeling is very different from that one and we’re at a point where the young core the Rockets have replaced with that bubble team have no limit to the potential they can reach together.