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After 62 losses, Rockets season was one big win

Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green of the Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets

After 62 losses, Rockets season was one big win

Despite a losing season, the Houston Rockets future is looking extremely bright

“Success” is not the first word that comes to mind when you think of the 2021-22 Houston Rockets, but maybe it should be.

Despite finishing with a 20-62 record, the Rockets accomplished in one season something that can take several years — decades even — for most NBA franchises.

They acquired a young, legitimate franchise cornerstone.

Jalen Green came to the Rockets as the #2 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. By midseason, the Rockets were taking some flack for the choice. Green was struggling and Evan Mobley, who went #3 after Houston passed on him, looked like the Rookie of the Year.

There was only one archetype for Green that seemed to justify taking him over Mobley, and that was the superstar two-guard with the “It factor.”

The Rockets may just have that.

Green continued to put in the work and in the final 28 games, the 6-foot-6 guard averaged 21.4 points on 47.7% from the field, 40.0% from three (taking 8 triples per game), 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists.

These are superstar numbers. The elite speed, quickness, athleticism and ability to get off his own shot all scream that this is a special player… and he’s only 20 years old.

I remember Daryl Morey once telling me you have to have a star to get a star and that the first one is extremely difficult to acquire. We saw this come to life in cases where the Rockets failed to get Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony BEFORE acquiring James Harden. After Harden? All three chose to come to Houston. Green is going to make it easier for the Rockets to attract high-level talent to Houston for the next 10+ years.

That alone makes this season a tremendous victory.

But that wasn’t all. Kevin Porter Jr. continues to impress. While it’s unclear if he’s a 100% lock to be the long-term starting point guard alongside Green, it is clear that he can be a one-man wrecking crew on offense and has earned a role.

Rockets GM Rafael Stone nailed the 2021 draft, scoring with Green and then using three additional firsts to pick up Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher. All of them showed promise, especially Sengun and Christopher.

Stone is now going to get another shot at the table. Because the Rockets finished with the worst record in the league, they are guaranteed no worse than the #5 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, with bigs like Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith and Paolo Banchero available, as well as guard Jaden Ivey and others. Stone will also have Brooklyn’s first-round pick (likely between 16-18) at his disposal.

Couple those picks with tradeable assets like Christian Wood and Eric Gordon and the Rockets are likely to add more young, high-caliber talent this offseason.

A youthful superstar. Budding complementary players. A top-5 pick on the way. The rebuild of Rockets basketball is off to a terrific start and this is just the beginning. Don’t be deceived by the losses — this season was a big win.

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Armed with a bizarre fascination for Mario Elie and a deep love of the Houston Rockets, Dave Hardisty started ClutchFans in 1996 under the pen name “Clutch”.

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