Entering the season with back-to-back top three picks in the 2021 and 2022 NBA drafts, the Houston Rockets continue to be in rebuild mode this season following the departure of James Harden, who was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in Jan 2021.
After selecting Jalen Green with the second overall pick in 2021 and Jabari Smith Jr. with the third overall pick in June, the Rockets have some promising pieces to build around heading into the year. Houston also have a 2024 first round pick via Brooklyn from the Harden deal. With a young core of Green, Smith, Kevin Porter Jr. and Christian Wood, the Rockets could well have reason to be optimistic for the future.
However, though this team might look appealing on paper, adding a veteran or two to bolster experience could just be the boost the Rockets need. That could come at the cost of one of these young players or the dealing of veteran Eric Gordon. The recent loss of Dennis Schroder to the Los Angeles Lakers was an interesting one, as Schroder could have been one of those veterans to help shape the backcourt.
Finishing at the bottom of the league for two consecutive years, it’s hard to envision the Rockets sniffing a playoff berth this year even with the potential they might have, and they’ll likely see long odds in NBA betting markets this season. There’s good news in Space City, however — there’s nowhere to go but up.
It’s fair to say that the Houston Rockets had a dreadful 2021-22 season, ending with a record of 20-62 — the worst record in the league.
However, there were a few bright spots in an otherwise dreary and forgettable campaign. Christian Wood paced the team last season averaging a double-double (17.9 points per game, 10.1 rebounds per game) while Jalen Green averaged 17.3 ppg. Point guard Kevin Porter Jr. averaged 15.6 ppg and 6.2 assists per outing last season.
The Rockets were founded in 1967 and originated at the San Diego Rockets before relocating to Houston in 1971.
While the Moses Malone years of the late 1970’s and early 80’s brought success to the franchise, Malone was dealt to Philadelphia in 1982, leading to an organization that found itself finishing last in the league in consecutive seasons and with first overall picks in the 1983 and 1984 NBA drafts where they selected Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon.
This ‘twin towers’ era was short-lived, however, as Sampson joined the Golden State Warriors not long after. Regardless, Olajuwon and newly acquired (now longtime Houston coach) Rudy Tomjanovich led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995.
The early 2000’s saw the era of 7-foot-6 Yao Ming that also included stars like Steve Francis and Tracy McGrady added to the roster. But even with the roster that had the talent to hang another championship banner in the Toyota Center, the Rockets were unable to do so.