Fred Faour: Don’t look now, but the Rockets are showing progress

Dec 8, 2022; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green (4) dribbles the ball during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Fred Faour: Don’t look now, but the Rockets are showing progress

Yes, they are still just 9-18 and tied for the worst record in the Western Conference. They are still in line for a high lottery pick. But the Houston Rockets are showing signs of progress.

They beat the Phoenix Suns for the second time in just over a week on Tuesday, two days after beating title contenders Milwaukee. A loss to a bad Spurs team was sandwiched in between those, but the fact that the Rockets have won three of four is a good sign.

They are not going to be a title contender anytime soon. Or, really, a playoff contender. But this young Rockets team is showing signs of what it might be a year or two down the road.

Second-year guard Jalen Green is showing all the signs of being a potential superstar. He is averaging 21.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. He showed flashes, particularly at the end of last season, and has made that word – progress – in Year Two. There is a long way to go, but the Rockets might have their centerpiece star for a long time.

Rookie Jabari Smith, the third overall pick, has been inconsistent, as rookies often are. But he has shown flashes he can be the kind of player the Rockets envisioned when they drafted him. His numbers are still pedestrian – 12.1 points and 7.1 rebounds – but he has shown signs of improvement as the season has gone on.

Another rookie, Tari Eason, has flashed an all-around game and leads the team in steals at 1.3 per game. Smith and Eason have also brought a dynamic that was sorely lacking last season – defense. Smith averages a block a game, and Eason has been very good on defense.

Alperen Sengun has continued to improve his game, becoming a force in the paint with 14.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Kevin Porter Jr., Kenyon Martin Jr., Jae’Sean Tate, and Usman Garuba have all had their moments.

These are players who should constantly improve, especially the more they play together. Green will be the main piece, but if a few of the others can keep improving, these Rockets might be fun, even if a little far away from playoff contention.

They were always going to be a work in progress. Maybe we are starting to see that progress.

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