Storylines for the Rockets last 24 games

Feb 8, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets head coach Stephen Silas applauds during a timeout against the Sacramento Kings during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Storylines for the Rockets last 24 games

The Rockets reconvened from the All-Star Break on Wednesday in preparation for the final 24 games of the season, beginning on Friday in San Francisco. Very little has gone right for the Rockets on the way to a 13-45 record, and while they aren’t playing for anything over the next six weeks, there is still a reason to watch. Here are the three biggest storylines:

Can Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. build momentum for next season?

The two foundational pieces of the Rockets’ future have underwhelmed this season. Green has improved in many areas from last season, but he’s been less efficient as a scorer, and the effort he’s put forth has been disappointing far too often. Billed as a knockdown shooter and elite defender, Smith has shot poorly as a rookie and often looked lost on the defensive end of the floor.

None of this matters now. Smith is still 19 years old, while Green celebrated his 21st birthday earlier this month, but you would like to see signs of life over these last 24 games to have something positive to build on over the summer and into training camp. Green played his best basketball after the break last season, averaging 22.1 points per game on 48% shooting, 39% from behind the 3-point line, but he suffered a strained groin last week in Oklahoma City and is likely to miss at least a little time. Smith flashes the talent that had him at the top of many draft boards last summer; he just hasn’t been able to string quality performances together, failing to score 20 points in back-to-back games since Thanksgiving.

Who seizes on an opportunity

Eric Gordon has been traded, while Kevin Porter Jr. remains out after missing the last 17 games with a left foot injury, and now Green is out with a groin strain, so that opens up minutes for guys who haven’t been getting them. Josh Christopher had a disappointing first half of the season, frequently finding himself outside of the Rockets rotation, but he’s played in all 17 games Porter has missed, averaging 7.5 points in 15 minutes while converting on 49% of his field goal attempts. He has a chance to put himself firmly in the mix next season by having a strong final 24 games. Same can be said for TyTy Washington, who has also seen his role increase after spending a good portion of the season in the G League. Daishen Nix has not played well in his first NBA opportunity, but he’s still just 20 years old, and has 24 games to show what he does every day in practice can translate to the big stage. Then there’s Darius Days, the 23-year-old undrafted forward, who has played in only three games this season. Tari Eason’s teammate at LSU is on a two-way contract, but with the Rockets currently having two open roster spots, Days could play himself into a long-term contract, similar to the four-year contracts the Rockets gave Nix and Garrison Mathews last season.

Can Stephen Silas survive?

The Rockets are an NBA worst 50-162 in Silas’ three seasons as Rockets head coach, and he has an option for next season that still hasn’t been picked up. If the Rockets thought he was their guy moving forward, it would be safe to assume he wouldn’t be a lame duck at the moment, but he still has the job, which gives him 24 games to prove he should keep it. The Rockets would need to win a third of their remaining games to eclipse their win total from last season, which seems unlikely since they’ve won 22% of their games so far this season, and the team is 2-34 without Gordon, who is gone for good, the last two seasons, so the odds are stacked against Silas, but it’s still his job until someone says it’s not anymore.

Related Posts:

1 Comment

  • Rockets need to go to CHINA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *