I’ve been with The Dream Shake for a little over a year now, so I thought it would be fun to revisit some common Houston Rockets free agency, draft and trade target opinions from the past calendar year and how I stand on them now in comparison.
Deandre Ayton - Lower
His free agency situation got messy last season and while I thought he had potential to be a top-five center in the league, he really hasn’t backed that up. In no universe should Jock Landale be more deserving of playoff minutes over a former first overall pick.
Miles Bridges - LOWER
He’s an extremely talented player, but it wouldn’t feel right to reward a guy who has had the off-court issues that he has had. I’d prefer someone else be the ones to give him a second chance.
Anfernee Simons - Push
Simons fits into the Tyler Herro/Jordan Poole/Tyrese Maxey casting where they are clearly skilled offensive players, but are also liabilities on the defensive end. Houston already has this department filled so it’s a no for me, dog.
Nic Claxton - Higher
While Claxton’s offensive repertoire is limited, there’s no denying that his defensive contributions were deserving of All-Defense consideration. His league-leading 254 STOCKS (steals and blocks) won’t go unnoticed by this writer. In theory, a platoon of him and Alperen Şengün would be effective against all but three or four bigs in the league.
Juan Toscano-Anderson - Push
I really couldn't go lower on JTA because my whole pitch on bringing him in was for him to be the 12th man that can provide championship experience. There’s not much else to it.
Caleb Martin - Higher
This feels like my true “I told you so” pick from a year ago. Martin has been instrumental to the Miami Heat’s playoff run and you can rest assured that his motor will always run high.
Mo Bamba - Lower
I had hoped Bamba would carve out a role as the Los Angeles Lakers backup big, but maybe it’s time to sell my stock on him.
Mark Williams - Higher
Williams showed that he was capable of the things that you would hope someone of his size could accomplish: finish around the rim, rebound, and block shots. Seems like someone the Charlotte Hornets would want to keep around, but at least the Rockets were still able to get great value after Williams was selected...
Tari Eason - HIGHER
Hell yeah! Second Team All-Rookie and even some first team votes for the birthday boy! We should only expect great things from Tari as more opportunity comes his way.
Jeremy Sochan - Higher
The San Antonio Spurs appear to have found another guy capable of impacting the game in multiple facets. It’s no surprise that they recognized his upside and decided to make him a top ten pick.
Paolo Banchero - Higher
I think most of us assumed we were getting Banchero up until 24-48 hours before the draft when the betting lines started to push him towards the Orlando Magic. The Rookie of the Year would have been magical in H-Town too, but there’s no benefit in moping around at this point.
Chet Holmgren - Push
The Chet to Houston boat never got steam because it seemed like the Oklahoma City Thunder were locked in on him from the start. The only reason I didn’t list him higher is because the prospects of big men with foot injuries are scary, but I’m hoping he can get on the court and fulfill his potential next season.
Jabari Smith Jr. - Higher
By the time I realized we were getting Bari at number three last season, I was excited to get the best combination of shooting and defense in the draft. While his numbers didn’t dazzle at first, it’s commendable that he still battled night in, night out on an awful team. He picked up the pace in the second half, enough to the point where he was able to join Tari on Second Team All-Rookie. I’m confident that he will blossom with more stability and better coaching around him next season.
James Harden - Push
Admittedly, I’ve been against a reunion for some time. I think it’s just best to leave your ex in the past and while the fans say they know they wouldn’t be getting peak Harden back, I’m not convinced that everyone is on the same page. However, what has put me back on the fence is that he has shown a gear in these playoffs that I just didn’t think he could reach anymore. Couple that with this team needing a true distributor and I guess it comes down to years on the contract for me.
How about other 2023 targets?
Jaylen Brown - Higher
His All-NBA status and the contract ramifications that will come from that is what ultimately determines his availability. It appears that he is a fan of Ime Udoka and following whatever tea leaves there are is enough to pique my interest. I can’t turn a blind eye to acquiring a top 15-20 player, no matter how slight the chances are.
Tyus Jones - Higher
This comes down to wanting a competent guard who isn’t going to turn the ball over. His ceiling isn’t as high as some of the guys that are already on the team, but I think they could benefit from his proven ability to be a floor general.
Khris Middleton - Lower
Perhaps if he were three years younger and not coming off an injury-riddled season, but I can’t see myself getting excited if this was the off-season’s big splash.
Cam Johnson - Higher
I think it took me seeing Johnson getting more opportunity on the Brooklyn Nets, but he’s a really good role player that probably would have given the Phoenix Suns the boost they need to advance further in these playoffs (still pending). Throwing a RFA offer at him wouldn’t hurt.
Dillon Brooks - LOWER
Not here to pile on, however, Brooks doesn’t appear to have a grasp on what his role should be at this point in his basketball career. He reportedly wants a contract in excess of 25 million per year, as well as an expanded offensive role, and I just don’t see how that benefits what the Rockets are trying to do here.
And for the fun of it...
Victor Wembanyama - HIGHER
I’m to the point where it’s almost Wembanyama or bust for me. It can’t be overstated how transcendental he can become.
Scoot Henderson - Higher
I’d take him second no matter what. This team needs to get better at point guard and even with the concerns of his shooting ability, he’s still a game-changer in my eyes.