The Houston Rockets’ season technically is not over yet, but in the grand scheme of the NBA, and what is best for the team going forward, the focus has switched to this offseason. Like last year, fans and media are starting to prep for the draft and who the Rockets may take with one of the top lottery picks.
The attention is on March Madness, considering the top three or four prospects are still in the tournament. Once the champion has been crowned in the NCAA and NBA, the real fun begins for Houston.
This past Summer League was one of the most anticipated Summer League in Rockets history. Jalen Green was front and center as fans were ready to see the number two overall pick on the court, along with Alperen Sengun and Josh Christopher. The game between the Pistons and Rockets had the highest ratings of any game last Summer. This Summer will be no different with the Rockets having at least a top-seven pick and more than likely a top-four, but the Rockets’ 2022 draft picks will not be the only ones participating in this year's Summer League games.
When you are rebuilding, you tend to have several young players on your team, and the Rockets have multiple players on the current roster who should play in this year's Summer League. Here are the three players ( draft picks from this year excluded) who should play in the upcoming Summer League for the Rockets.
The Houston Rockets have shown that they think Daishen Nix has a bright future with the team. After Nix went undrafted and failed to make an opening day NBA roster, the Rockets added Nix to its G-League affiliate team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Nix quickly became one of the best players in the G-League, winning Player of The Week honors in January. The Rockets front office was so impressed that they converted Nix's two-way deal to a standard four-year NBA contract.
Nix was called up from the Vipers earlier this month and has played sparingly with most of the point guard minutes to Kevin Porter Jr. and Dennis Schroder. Of course, not every player on the Summer League roster makes the final roster, but the Rocket's two 2022 draft picks will likely play in the Summer League.
Nix could benefit from more playing time, and playing in the Summer League would help him get that playing time. Nix is probably the closest to a prototypical point guard the Rockets have, and having him run the team this Summer would benefit everyone involved.
When the Rockets’ 2021 NBA Draft is spoken of, most of the talk is about Green, Sengun, and Christopher, and for good reason; all have had stretches of great play this season. Garuba, on the other hand, has had an uneven season. Garuba has played a handful of games for the Vipers where he looked good at times and foul-prone others but has shown enough potential to get excited about this year.
Garuba has played even less time for the Rockets as injuries have derailed most of his season. Garuba made his return from his hand injury after missing 25 games. In the Rockets’ 130-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, he played a few minutes. Garuba has all the skills to be a top defender in the League, can guard multiple players, has good defensive instincts, and is a good shot blocker.
The other side of the court is where Garuba needs the most work. Garuba's outside shooting is probably the weakest part of his game, but it could improve with more time on the court. Playing in the G-League would give Garuba that playing time he desperately needs. There is a chance Garuba is sent back to the Vipers before the end of the season, but even if that is the case, the Summer League is a must for the rookie center.
This year, Josh Christopher has had the most success out of the two other players in this article. It started slow for Christopher, but after a short stint with the Vipers, Christopher has become a constant in the Rockets rotation. Christopher has played 15-20 minutes a game the last 50-plus games.
Christopher has had some great games with the Rockets. He scored 21 points and went 8-13 from the field in the Rocket's win over the Lakers. But of course, as with any rookie, there are ups and downs. In Christopher's last three games, he is shooting 4-17 from the field. Even with the increased playing time during the year, Christopher would benefit from continuing to play throughout the summer. He could be the focal point of the offense with more playing time.
Ball handling and decision-making would be the two areas Christopher could work on during Summer League. Christopher has an excellent chance of becoming an essential part of the Rocket's future. Now he needs as many reps on the court as he can get, which continues this Summer.