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Three encouraging things about Rockets 6-17 start

It’s not all bad in H-town.

Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The Rockets sit at 14th in the Western Conference with a 6-17 record. Although it hasn’t been a great start to the season, there are still some things to be excited about.

Jalen Green’s playmaking

Everybody knows Green can score, but his recent growth in the playmaking department deserves its recognition. After averaging just 2.6 assists per game last season as a rookie, Green is now averaging 3.8 assists per night.

The 20-year-old guard recorded 6 assists versus the Toronto Raptors on November 9, a game that would spark an impressive stretch for Green. Since that outing, he’s averaging 5.7 assists, including a game where he recorded a career-high 9 assists in a win versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. He recorded eight games with 5 or more assists and averaged 5.1 assists per game in the month of November.

According to Second Spectrum, Green is averaging 6.8 potential assists and has created 9.6 points per game off of his dimes.

Counting numbers aside, Green’s pick-and-roll navigation has been fantastic. The young guard continues to get better at deciding whether he should dish it off or take it himself. If Houston’s franchise guard grows as a distributor, it would only unlock more on the court for both him and his teammates.

Jabari Smith Jr. has arrived

After an inconsistent start to his rookie season, Houston’s number-three pick has gotten better by the game.

Smith Jr. is averaging 11.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game thus far. The young forward currently leads all rookies in rebounds per game and is fourth amongst the group in points per game. Smith Jr. has been great on the glass for Houston, having recorded 12 games with 7 or more rebounds and four games with 10 or more.

Through the first month of the season, Smith Jr. struggled to knock down perimeter shots consistently, but that is not the case anymore. In his last 10 games, Houston’s number three draft pick is shooting 42 percent from behind the arc. Smith Jr. also had a six-game stretch at the end of Novemeber where he made three or more three-pointers in each of those games, something that no other teenager in NBA history has done. In that same six-game stretch, Smith Jr. averaged 16.2 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 46.5 percent from three.

According to Second Spectrum, Smith Jr. is shooting 47.6 percent on pull-up three-point jumpers, an area he excelled at in college. He was a candidate for Western Conference Rookie of the month in November, averaging 11.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and nearly 1 block a game. Smith Jr. looks more confident and is slowly getting better game by game. It’s time to declare that Houston’s number three overall pick has arrived.

Tari Eason

When Eason is on the court, good things happen. In games where he plays 20 or more minutes, he’s averaging 10.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game. Eason has also been a huge help for Houston as a rebounder, having posted 14 games with 6 or more boards.

Defensively, Eason has wreaked havoc in the passing lanes. The young forward has already recorded seven games with two or more steals. The energy that Eason has brought off the bench for Houston has been fantastic, and it will only get better as his playing time increases.