The Houston Rockets continued their 2023 training camp in Lake Charles. Today was the second day of practice, and we were able to watch a few minutes today before the interviews started. I was able to take in some of Amen Thompson getting up shots, and at least for the few minutes I was able to watch, his shot seemed a lot more fluid than during Summer League as he continues to work with assistant coach Ben Sullivan.
Amen Thompson getting up shots pic.twitter.com/59z8HUsx8L— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) October 4, 2023
Today, we spoke with Ime Udoka, Alperen Sengun and Fred VanVleet. Coach Udoka was up first, and he talked about VanVleet's leadership, how he plans to use Sengun on the offensive and defensive end, and also about his two rookies, Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore.
I asked Coach Udoka how the rookies are adjusting to training camp and NBA life.
“They have been great. I think Summer League our time in the gym has kind of prepped them for this.”
It is obvious how having multiple veterans on the team will help Thompson and Whitmore compared to previous seasons, where most of the roster was under 23 years old. When you can play on a team with VanVleet — an NBA champion — Jeff Green — another NBA Champion — and Dillon Brooks — one of the best defensive players in the league — that will accelerate your development.
Coach Udoka also spoke on how the team has been working on their switching defense. When asked specifically about Sengun, Coach Udoka said:
“Everyone is working on it.”
Sengun spoke next and talked about how the team is already building chemistry, specifically VanVleet and himself. He also spoke about his teammates urging him to shoot the open three-pointer.
I also asked him if he was more confident about taking the open outside shot than the two previous seasons.
"I worked all summer, and now my teammates telling my coaches telling me you need to shoot."
I asked Alperen about his confidence shooting open 3s this season— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) October 4, 2023
“I worked all summer and now my teammates telling my coaches telling me you need to shoot” pic.twitter.com/cenO7GQzKG
A lot was made last season about Coach Silas not encouraging Sengun to take the open shot. That may have led to Sengun’s confidence dropping throughout the season and hesitation when taking the open three-pointer. This coaching staff seems to have a different stance regarding that and, along with his teammates, encourages him to take the shot if available.
Last but not least, VanVleet spoke to the media, and one thing is already evident: He will, along with Brooks and Green, be the leader of this team. VanVleet talked about how he is already building relationships with his teammates ( for example, the gifts he gave to all his teammates) and how this training camp has been about teaching.
I asked VanVleet about his work this offseason with Jalen Green and how they are already building chemistry on the court.
"I just feel he is super hungry to be great and take that next step."
I asked Fred VanVleet about the chemistry he is building with Jalen Green— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) October 4, 2023
“I just feel he is super hungry to be great and take that next step” pic.twitter.com/eEkCFxRoMe
During training camp, we have seen VanVleet working with Green on the court, talking to him on the sidelined, and being a leader on the court. This goes along with him working with several teammates this offseason and being vocal on and off the court.
The Rockets will be back at it tomorrow for day three of training camp, as they will wrap up their training camp practices on Friday. I will be bringing you all the latest news from Lake Charles tomorrow, so make sure to come back daily for all the latest on your Houston Rockets.