Another solid first half against a competitive team, another second half collapse, another loss notched into the draft odds calculation.
It’s certainly no shame to lose to the Phoenix Suns - they’ve won eight out of every ten games they’ve played this season at 56-14. That’s...pretty good. If they keep it up, they’ll finish with 65-66 wins, and they’ll have done it with key players missing significant time, which is a hallmark of a great NBA team. I personally thought they’d be about this good, if Chris Paul stayed at his level of play from last season, as most of their core players are young enough to still be improving: Booker, Ayton, Bridges, Payne are around the “early prime” stage of their careers.
This formula, adding a great veteran player to an improving team, might be one the Rockets consider in another year. Of course, Chris Paul is rather special in that regard, in that every team he goes to gets much better almost immediately. Even so, the Rockets should have great cap space in the summer of 2023, and if we see solid improvement in the Roster of Rookies (and other assorted young guys) there’s no reason to think the Rockets could compete for a playoff spot in 23-24.
In the meantime we seem to have found a formula that works on two levels - development, and lottery odds.
Developmentally, Jalen Green is doing much what Anthony Edwards did last season, that is, look terrible for two thirds of the campaign, and then be seen to figure things out in the final 1/3. It’s another efficient scoring night from him, and while some would like to see more shots, I’m happy to see good shots, smart plays, and recognition of mismatches he can exploit. (Almost everyone is a speed mismatch.)
This was also a good night from Kevin Porter Jr. as he notched 21pts, 8 assists against 3 turnovers, and 4 rebounds with good efficiency shooting-wise.
Tonight featured The Return of The Rando, as Torrey Craig scored 21 points on 8-8 shooting, along with 14 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks. Congratulations Torrey! You’re The Rampaging Rando.
Sadly, the Rockets didn’t provide Mr. Craig with his career high in points, which remains 28. But with perfect shooting, he really only has himself to blame. He should have taken more shots.
The Rockets also might give some thought to starting KJ Martin over Gary Bird Matthews. Matthews is a fun player, and would be a really useful 10th-12th man. As a starter, his fringy aspects stand out notably, and Martin’s ceiling is far higher.
In the meantime, this is the way.
This poll is closed