Josh Christopher’s role was a mystery entering his rookie campaign. When the Houston Rockets made Christopher their final selection (No. 24 overall) during the 2021 NBA Draft, red shirting his first season playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers was the expectation.
The only known fact about Christopher was the similarities shared with James Harden. Both are natives of California who wore No. 13 at Arizona State.
The Rockets recalled Christopher from the G-League after he averaged 22 points in three games. By the end of his first season, Christopher not only proved he could produce on an NBA level, but he became a vital part of Stephen Silas’ 12-man rotation.
A role Christopher achieved on Dec. 8 when he scored a then career-best 18 points in a 114-104 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Christopher again was a mirror image of Harden’s past by providing Houston a significant boost off the bench.
He closed out his rookie campaign eclipsing 20 points or more five times. And against the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 3, Christopher scored a career-best 30 points in the seven-point loss. He created an identity of his own and proved why the Rockets had arguably the best draft class in 2021.
Christopher has established himself as a foundational piece to Houston’s rebuild. The inconsistencies in his on-court play will improve once Silas officially ingrains Christopher into his game-plan.
There are several reasons to feel optimistic about Christopher’s future. He could claim the role as the Rockets’ Sixth Man in 2023 — where there will be more responsibilities. But the lone issue in Christopher’s game following his first year is his playmaking.
Christopher said it for himself after scoring 20 points in Houston’s three-point defeat to the San Antonio Spurs on March 29. During his post-game press conference, Christopher admitted to having tunnel vision when the ball was in his hands. He said improving the way he reads the court would be the primary point of emphasis for his off-season training.
The loss against the Spurs gave Christopher a glimpse into the all-around player he could become. In addition to his scoring, Christopher ended the game with six assists, six rebounds and a pair of steals.
Building upon a promising rookie year is the top objective for Christopher this summer. He is taking the necessary steps to enhance his play and told reporters during his exit interview that he intends to participate in the Las Vegas Summer League in July.
Christopher appeared in 74 games for the 20-62 Rockets. He averaged 7.9 points per game while shooting 44 .8percent from the field and 30.0 percent from behind the arc.