A Season of Worsts

An overview over the Houston Rockets season of surprises and disappointments.

The new era of the Houston Rockets is here following a roster overhaul turned rebuild. Players, coaches, front office members and the playbook are all part of the rebuild project, which started with the departure of All-Star guard James Harden. With a roster packed full of young talent and veteran leadership, the Rockets are ready to take the court again to begin the 2021-22 NBA season.
The offseason produced an opportunity for Houston to change up their roster in hopes of improving their record from last year, a disappointing 17-55. The Rockets had the worst record in the Southwest division.
Worst in the Western Conference.
Worst in the league.
This meager record allowed Houston to take the second overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft, paving the way for young talent on a struggling roster. In the 2021 Draft, the Rockets selected guard Jalen Green from G league Ignite, forward Usman Garuba from Real Madrid, and guard Josh Christopher from Arizona State University. The Rockets later acquired forward Alperen Sengun in a draft night trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. All of the rookies the Rockets selected are under the age of 19, giving a spark of youth to a struggling team.
During the NBA free agency period, Kelly Olynyk and DJ Wilson left the Rockets, leaving more cap space to sign other players. Houston signed forward Daniel Theis to a four-year deal and extended forward David Nwaba for three years. Guard Armoni Brooks also received a deal, locking him to Houston for four years and converting him from his two-way contract.
One of the biggest talking points of this offseason has been point guard and NBA All-Star John Wall. General Manager Rafael Stone is looking to find a team that would accept a trade for Wall as Houston turns to younger guards in the rotation. Wall’s contract is a sizable one, at 170 million dollars over four years and teams are not willing to fill up their available contract space with his deal. Teams are also hesitant to take Wall due to a long history of injuries. Until the Rockets can find a suitable trade partner, Wall will sit on the bench and have a mentorship role with the team.
Even with the players Houston acquired in the offseason and the new energy the team has, it’s hard to see the Rockets having a big impact in the highly competitive Western Conference. A team full of inexperienced youth isn’t going to be favored against a stand-out, veteran talent like LeBron James and Stephen Curry.
Regardless, the Rockets future looks bright and they should be able to be legitimate NBA Championship contenders in the coming years if the rebuild is successful. Young guards such as Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Armoni Brooks, and Josh Christopher bring energy, shooting, and spacing to the floor. Youthful forwards and centers like Christian Wood, Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba space the floor, shoot effectively, and rebound the ball efficiently. Seasoned veterans like John Wall and devoted coaches like Stephen Silas bring insight and basketball knowledge to the entire team. It will take a few years for these players to develop and adjust to the league, but once experienced, this Rockets team will be a threat to the entire league.