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Grading the 2021-2022 Rockets - Part Two

Zeke hands out the rest of his final grades.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Check out Part One of Zeke’s Grades here!

Jae’Sean Tate

Remember when legions of Rockets fans on Twitter refused to even include Tate in a trade as a thought exercise? After this season, I wonder if those same fans still see him as a long-term rebuild option?

Tate’s production was the same as last season despite more usage, so is it really bad? No, but it isn’t good either. The problem with Jae’Sean is that he’s an undersized wing who is a non-shooter. He may excel at many other aspects of the game like his finishing ability (61 percent from less than five feet), nonetheless, it isn’t elite enough to offset those flaws.

For what it’s worth, his effort is mesmerizing, and he never gives up on plays regardless of the result. His resolve is why he’s fourth in charges drawn (18), however, that same energy allows him to don the crown as the league leader in personal fouls this season (286).

Grade: C+

Eric Gordon

Gordon’s campaign can be described as a Jekyll and Hyde ordeal. In the first half of the season, Gordon was on a mission as he put up 14 points on 48/42/76 shooting splits. The Rockets’ success was reliant on his play; the team’s record was 9-2 whenever he scored more than 18 points, and 10-36 when he didn’t.

As soon as the trade deadline, he was no longer ‘Splash Gordon’. He was okay, but not great. After the All Star break, he shot 43/38/93 which isn’t bad by any stretch, but his nine-point per game production just didn’t feel as impactful compared to the first half of the season.

The one thing that didn’t fluctuate was his defense, he was a pest on the perimeter. Eric would routinely put opponents in straight jackets, limiting them to 30 percent shooting from 15 feet and beyond.

Grade: B+

Kevin Porter Jr.

If there’s a word to describe KPJ’s second season in Houston it would be inconsistent. The 6’4” starting point guard had a season where he averaged 16 points on 42/38/64 with 6 assists to boot.

He’s had many highs, like the self lob dunk that channeled Steve Francis back in the early 2000s, and then we had lows where he left the arena during halftime.

When you add the skeptics’ criticism of Kevin’s ability as point guard, specifically with his decision making — citing he takes too long to make decisions and is turnover prone — the conversation can get awkward really quick. I can’t debate Porter Jr’s turnovers, as he gives up the ball three times per game, which makes him ranked 20th in total turnovers.

However, when looking at the player’s touch stat on both KPJ’s (5.06, 4.49) average seconds per touch and average dribble per touch is the same or less than Davion Mitchell ( 5.17, 5.03) and Dejounte Murray (5.06, 4.67). Does that absolve his weaknesses as playmaker? No. He simply must become better.

One thing is for sure is that when KPJ decides to push ‘P’ he’s a different type of player, in the last eight games of the season he put up a ridiculous statline of 26 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists on 47/40/87 splits.

Grade: B

Jalen Green

The second overall pick came in to the season and started off slow at first, as he wasn’t the scorer many projected to be. But in the second half of the season, Green came alive. This man put up 22 points per game on 48/39/76.

The main difference between Jalen Green in the first half and the second half was his adjustment to speed and spacing of the NBA game. When he first arrived, Jalen was able to beat his man off his first step on drives, however, in the later months, he was able to be more crafty with his tighter ball handling skills to get to his spots.

He’s improved in his defense and his playmaking in such a short time, it’s absurd! I honestly think that sky’s the limit with him.

Grade: B+

Christian Wood

Christian Wood is an enigma. Depending on who you speak to in the fandom, he’s a star you should throw a max contract to or a replaceable bum. Regardless where you place him in the spectrum, he had a pretty good season.

Wood was the only player that achieved a statline of 18 points, 10 rebounds, 1 block a game on 50/39/62 shooting splits. Ignoring the free throw percentage and his sometimes perplexing shot selection, that’s pretty impressive.

When it comes to his defense, it’s another story altogether. He has his moments where he can guard perimeter players in space, and then he has his moments where he looks lost on that end, specifically in pick-and-roll coverage. As a help defender, he does his job, it’s just not enough to change the fortunes of a team that gives up 118 points a game.

Grade B+

Rockets Fans

Yes guys! I’m evaluating you all! This fanbase has been awesome all year. Many of you could’ve stopped watching the worst team in the league, but you didn’t. Instead, you not only watched, you were active and rooting for our young core. Because of this, you guys get an A+.

Grade A+