Your first thought may be that some of these choices are too ambitious...but you must understand that the Rockets are here to shoot for the moon!
I also want you to keep in mind that the media tends to penalize players for not playing on winning teams and considering that this team will likely find itself under .500 once again, it’s a possibility that bias will play a factor. Nevertheless, let’s get to it.
I regret to inform you that nobody on the Houston Rockets will be a regular season or an NBA Finals MVP this season. Perhaps if you’d like to discuss the Rising Stars Challenge MVP, then now we are talking.
Defensive Player of The Year
Sorry, this is also a no-go. Give it a few years and then we could see Jabari Smith Jr. or Tari Eason make their case as being the lynchpin of a top five defense in the league.
Sixth Man of The Year
We’ve arrived to the portion of this blog that actually has potential. We already have a candidate who has won in the past in Eric Gordon. If circumstances happen to keep him around and he for some reason is coming off the bench this year, who says he doesn’t light it up to the point where it’s clear he is deserving of the award once more?
I also may have a hyperbolic take coming in three...two...one...
I think Josh Christopher could become a future recipient of this trophy if all goes right. We’re a while away from this becoming a possibility, but I think him learning from one of the best makes him a dynamic prospect to keep an eye on.
Rookie of The Year
Among the rookies, Smith has the best chance to get it. Do I like his odds against the field? Not in particular. This award usually goes to primary ball handlers and/or players that put up large scoring numbers. Due to Smith’s role on this team, I don’t see him as the guy who will see the ball nearly enough to wow the voters. The best case scenario for Smith would be for him to have the type of impact that Evan Mobley did last year while avoiding the injury bug that allowed Scottie Barnes to leapfrog Mobley in the race.
As for the other rookies, it’s even more improbable, but I’ve been wrong before.
Most Improved Player
Okay, this is the award that I think multiple Rockets’ players have a legitimate shot at winning. However, I don’t agree with one of the options at all. I think Kevin Porter Jr. has a chance at winning this award if he takes a large enough statistical leap while demonstrating control over the offense. This would make sense and be in a similar vein to when Aaron Brooks, CJ McCollum or Goran Dragic won in the past.
The selection that would make me lose my mind is if Jalen Green followed in the footsteps of last year’s winner, Ja Morant. I’m about to go on a tangent so please excuse me.
I don’t understand how the second overall pick who has improved every year fits the profile for this award. Even Morant thought the same way, as he gave the award to his teammate, Desmond Bane.
Desmond Bane's reaction to Ja Morant giving him the Most Improved Player award pic.twitter.com/kVJtutGpbr— ESPN (@espn) April 26, 2022
Why are the voters rewarding guys who came in with expectations of being great with this award? Sure, I’d love for Green to take home some hardware, but it’s silly that this would be what he’s up for consideration for.
This isn’t just a high draft pick issue for me because I understood it when former second overall pick, Brandon Ingram, won it a few years ago. Ingram came in with high expectations, but his play stagnated on the Los Angeles Lakers and there were real questions being asked on if he’d ever reach his potential. A change of scenery finally allowed Ingram to tap into that potential and in my opinion that makes for a more compelling case rather than someone who was closer to being an MVP candidate in their third season than “most improved”.
Coach of The Year
This would be a tough award to win for Stephen Silas considering that the award usually goes to the team with the best record. However, in the unlikely scenario that this team scratches their way into the playoffs, the only way that would happen is if Silas is a master motivator/strategist.
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ J.B. Bickerstaff finished in fifth place last year as he led his team into the play-in tournament. I’m not sure many predicted that Cavs team would be as good as they were, and had Bickerstaff’s roster not endured an insurmountable amount of injuries, it’s reasonable to think that they would have had a better record than 44-38 (improved from 22-50 in 2020-21). That would be the path for Silas to make some noise for COTY.
Executive of The Year
Like the other awards, winning plays the biggest role in taking this trophy home. Rafael Stone’s only leverage is really based on how good his draft class turns out to be. The incoming players from the Christian Wood deal will play a very limited role if they make the team, so unless there’s any other moves up his sleeve, this doesn’t seem like something that will be in his trophy case...this year at least.
All-NBA and All-Defensive Team Honors
NOPE. You either have to be considered a top 15 player or top ten defender in the entire league for the season. As I’ve already outlined above, we’re a few years away from that.
I think Jabari Smith walks into a First Team All-Rookie spot as long as he plays up to his standards (and as long as Herb Jones doesn’t have a younger brother that I’m unaware about). Eason and TyTy Washington also have an opportunity to make one of the two teams, but that depends on playing time and impact of course.
Like All-NBA, the All-Star teams are designated for the best of the best. It is easier to make the All-Star roster though because it’s based off only the first half of the season and I think the coaches and media are more lenient on winning in comparison to All-NBA. The West is stacked and with the return of stars such as Kawhi Leonard, Zion Williamson, Anthony Davis, etc. it will make it just that much harder to get a Rocket on the team. I do see a path though.
Green and KPJ are the most likely names that will get consideration, but I’m bullish on Alperen Şengün’s chances as well. Yes, there are considerable names back in the mix this year, but injuries always play a role in the final All-Star rosters as there’s usually multiple replacement picks. Andrew Wiggins was a starter last year so anything is possible.
If any of these guys get out to a hot start and garner a strong fan vote, that could go a long way into swaying other voters.
All-Star Weekend Festivities
Jalen Green after the NBA Slam Dunk Contest: “Yeah, I for sure need a run back because I messed up. So I need to run that back next year. We’ll figure it out though…I’ll be good next year.” #Rockets pic.twitter.com/wVR6x7GPOV— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) February 20, 2022
Maybe Jalen gets a shot at redemption in the Dunk Contest? Maybe KPJ rides his league best spot up shooting into a Three-Point Contest invite? Can Şengün become the next big to win the Skills Challenge? Tune in to find out.
Most Likely to Not Appear in John Wick: Chapter 4
Can I put some money on this prop?