The Houston Rockets did not enter the 2021-22 NBA campaign with the highest expectations. But there was hope that Houston’s on-court production would surpass the subpar performance of the previous season.
Fifty-eight games into the season, not only have the Rockets replicated the same inadequate on-court play, but Houston has become occasionally unwatchable given the number of 30-point losses the team has registered on a nightly basis.
The most pleasing factor of the Rockets through the first half of the season has been the continuous development of Houston’s young core — especially Kevin Porter Jr.’s evolution as the team’s starting point guard.
The Rockets will once again end the season with one of the league’s worst records, but at least another high lottery pick could place Houston on a trajectory of optimism for 2023.
WHAT’S THE ‘BEST CASE’ SCENARIO FROM PRESEASON?
With the Rockets entering the All-Star break with a 15-43 record, another season picking high is the best-case scenario from the preseason prediction. By recording the third-worst record in the league, the Rockets have all but sealed a top-three lottery pick for the upcoming draft.
Since the departure of James Harden in January of 2021, Houston is not a desirable destination to add the league’s top talents via trades or free agency, so building through the draft will be the Rockets’ primary subsistence.
WHAT’S THE ‘WORST CASE’ SCENARIO FROM PRESEASON?
From the preseason predictions, the worst-case scenario for the Rockets was to improve their on-court play, but the enhancements would have resulted in Houston entering no-man’s land.
Having a team that would avoid the agony of becoming a lottery team but not good enough to advance to the playoffs is the most putrid position for any franchise — just ask the Kevin Martin-led Rockets from 2010-2012.
Thankfully, the results of the 2022 campaign will not conclude in the Rockets missing out on a top-10 lottery pick.
WHAT’S THE ‘MOST LIKELY’ SCENARIO FROM PRESEASON?
We predicted that the Rockets would not be the worst team in the league when the season began in October. And as long as Houston stays a game or two ahead of the Orlando Magic (13-47) and Detroit Pistons (13-45), the Rockets would remain true to the prediction.
Not finishing with the league’s worst record would be a minor improvement as the Rockets continue their rough rebuild.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON?
Throughout the final 24 games of the regular season, I am mostly looking forward to the Rockets’ young core continuing their development. Kevin Porter Jr. made some major strides through the first half of the season, as he is currently averaging 16.0 points and seven assists while shooting 51.0 percent from behind the arc
In addition to Porter, I am excited to see how Jalen Green will close his rookie season. Green has had a modest rookie year at best, but most of his on-court production as of late could be the result of the inevitable rookie wall. A much-needed break could result in Green having a breakout performance — similar to the first six games he played where he averaged 20.5 points following a 14-game absence due to injury.
REVIEWING PRESEASON PREDICITION FOR SEEDING AND RECORD
During our preseason prediction, we had the Rockets finishing the 2022 season at 12th in the Western Conference with a record of 30-52. Unless the Rockets can win 15 out of their final 24 games of the season, Houston’s record will not meet the 30 wins we projected.
UPDATED PREDICTION FOR SEEDING AND RECORD
21-61, 15th in the Western Conference
How’s this for some crazy odds. Houston is currently +100000 to win the NBA title. That’s $100,000 back for every $1 bet.