Here we go!
The Rockets kick off their NBA 2k 2023 Las Vegas Summer League (because that is totally not a cumbersome title) campaign against the Portland Trailblazers.
If the 2023 NBA draft has faded from your memory, Portland seemed overjoyed when CLT (Charlotte, apparently) chose Brandon “The Manager” Miller instead of Sterling “Scoot” Henderson. This seemed to kick off a series of events where Mr. Trail Blazer Damien Lillard requested a trade (preferably to Miami).
Is Portland on a rebuilding path? Or will they attempt a less title raddled version of Golden State’s Lightyear’s Two Track Needle Threading Strategy(tm)? So far that strategy is less than a rousing success as the Warriors hopes still pretty much rest on the same guys as always. Can Portland do it better? Scoot’s performance will perhaps have a strong influence on how hard Lillard presses for a trade.
But enough about the upper left corner of the USA. It’s easily forgotten.*
What about the Rockets?
The Rockets send a loaded team to VSL this season, with Amen Thompson, the player chosen directly after Scoot Henderson. They also will feature Cam Whitmore, the player many thought the Rockets might draft 1-4 instead of Amen. The Rockets instead got Whitmore at #20 due to concerns over: health, attitude, interviews, introversion, sandbagging insecure college coach, the word “dour”, fear, uncertainty and doubt.
I put it that way because from what I can tell various teams’ reasons for not drafting Whitmore vary greatly. This makes me skeptical of all of those reasons, as there isn’t one thing like “Allegedly Provided A Potential Murder Weapon” that might (but didn’t) rule a prospect out.
The Rockets also return Tari Eason and Jabari Smith to Summer League, perhaps to give them some time with their new teammates.
Honestly, if this Rockets team looks terrible, well I’ll probably rationalize it some way or other, but they really should look good. Summer League is weird, and favors selfish ballhandlers who shoot it a lot, and also large foreign centers who can catch the ball near the basket and score using Time-Tested Big Man Techniques. The Rockets aren’t really either of those types, so some jankiness is to be expected.
That said, that should be an overwhelming amount of talent. Compare that to other Rockets teams from more competitive years where the featured player was, I dunno, Shamorie Ponds, or something.
Scoot may go berserk, of course. Summer League highly favors his style.
What do we want to see from the Rockets?
Amen Thompson - distribute, play defense, run the break. Work on future Movie Star chops. No, seriously, can he sing? Act? Dance? Not sure he needs the NBA.
Cam Whitmore - basically be discount Anthony Edwards. He doesn’t need to look polished, but like Ant, he needs to look potentially scary. Smile and be gregarious, just to make certain teams feel stupid.
Jabs Smith - shoot it over people. Play good defense. Don’t do too much, do a smaller number of things excellently.
Tari Eason - keep being Peso Eason, finish at the basket, show off an improving jumper.
Matthew Mayer - soulful, but shallow and obvious ballads that captured the heart, or at least hormones, of a generation. Sorry, that’s John Mayer.
Biggest Performance Tonight?
This poll is closed
Summer League Rando Never To Be Heard of In The NBA Again.
*NB - That’s where I live now, so I know.