The 2022-23 season has officially kicked off, with the Houston Rockets hosting their media day today at the Toyota Center. We heard from Rafael Stone, Stephen Silas, and several players, including Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.
It was a wide array of questions, from what improvements have you seen from the players to asking about an update to Porter Jr.'s contract situation and how certain players will fit with the incoming rookies.
Eric Gordon spoke on being one of the few vets on the team and how winning is his number one goal. The day's overall theme was talking about the Rockets’ youth and how everyone was excited to see the new and improved team on the court. The word "electric" was used a few times, and it seems the Rockets are ready to embrace their athleticism, but at the same time, realize there is plenty of work to be done.
There were plenty of noteworthy moments throughout the media day, but here are three important takeaways from Rockets media day.
A lot of the Rockets practice together during the off-season
When you first read that, I am sure you are thinking, "aren't they supposed to?" In theory, yes, but it does not always translate to the court. More and more players have their own shooting coach and trainer, so working out with teammates may not always be what happens during the NBA offseason.
We heard today how most of the Rockets were in the gym together, and Coach Silas mentioned how rare that is for any team.
So far to me this has been the most encouraging statements. Silas saying how almost everyone has been in the gym all summer which is rare for a team and Stone saying KPJ has been there more than anyone pic.twitter.com/r2CnNA6Xpt— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) September 26, 2022
This is a good sign, but particularly with a team as young as the Rockets, it is an excellent sign that players realize how vital chemistry can be, especially when you have 14 guys who have three years or less of NBA experience.
Chemistry doesn't start on the court. It begins in workouts and practices and then translates to game day. With the Rockets having good offseason workouts, hopefully, it translates to a better start to the season.
Jalen Green will take on more ball-handling duties this year
During an interview a couple of months ago, Coach Silas mentioned how Porter Jr. would be off the ball more this season. It was brought up regarding Porter Jr.'s impressive catch-and-shoot numbers last year, where he ranked number one in catch-and-shoot three-point percentage.
This seemed to be confirmed by Jalen Green, who spoke about initiating the offense more in the upcoming season.
I think this is a very important statement. Jalen Green talking about handling the ball more and initiating the offense. This answer to me is why the "is KPJ" a point guard debate is silly. Between Jalen and Sengun, it will be more of an even split than KPJ dominating the ball. pic.twitter.com/Ne74Wxagxd— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) September 26, 2022
We saw to begin the year Green being more of a spot-up shooter and not handling the ball. However, as the season went on, especially the last two weeks, we saw the point guard duties become more of an even split between Green and Porter Jr. With Alperen Sengun getting starter minutes this year and Green taking on more of the offense, Porter Jr. will be able to play off the ball more, and that will ultimately help his offense in the long run.
Kevin Porter Jr is very self-aware of his past issues and is working to do better
We all know the story by now. Kevin Porter Jr. is up for an extension, and the Rockets are trying to decide if they should extend him and, if so, how much and how many years. Porter Jr.'s issues have been well documented. From his time in college being suspended, his issues in Cleveland that led to him being traded for a second round pick that may never even convey to the Rockets, and his halftime tirade and immediate suspension last year.
None of the above can be disputed. Porter Jr. has made mistakes, but what we have heard since that locker room incident is a player who is more self-aware and understands the mistakes he has made. Today he was asked what he could teach the rookies coming into camp.
Yes he has made mistakes but all you can ask from players or anyone for that matter is being self aware and knowing you did make those mistakes and try to do better. Just like you heard from KPJ pic.twitter.com/RaI70pplbi— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) September 26, 2022
Porter Jr. also understands sometimes he was his own worst enemy and how he has gotten to his happy space.
“Just a little more understanding myself, looking at myself in the mirror, looking back at everything I’ve been through. I got sick of being in my own way, basically.”
If a player or anyone can understand their issues, learn from them and not make the same mistakes, that is all you can ask from them. It seems Poter Jr. is on the right track to take that next step and become a player a team can build around.
The Rockets head off to training camp tomorrow, which will run through Thursday before their first preseason game Sunday at the Toyota Center vs. the Spurs.
Check out my content all year, as I will be at Toyota Center covering the Rockets games and press conferences for the Dream Shake.