2 Rockets who need more minutes, 2 who need fewer down the stretch

Milwaukee Bucks v Houston Rockets
Milwaukee Bucks v Houston Rockets / Tim Warner/GettyImages

The Houston Rockets entered the 2023-24 season with hopes of reaching the play-in tournament. The Rockets went so far as to dub themselves in phase two of the rebuild, meaning the rebuild was over.

However, after nearly 60 games, those hopes are essentially dead. The Rockets are 25-34 12th in the Western Conference and 6.5 games back of the 10th and final play-in spot.

In other words, they aren't catching the 10th-seed.

With that being said, the last 23 games of the season are important, as it could give Rockets coach Ime Udoka a glimpse of what he's working with next season. 

He'll have to make sure to know who to invest time into and who to pull away from. Let's take a look at several players who need less time down the stretch.

Jalen Green

Jalen Green's third-year regression has been a huge disappointment. This was supposed to be his year to reverse the narratives of him being a losing player.

Instead, he's arguably had his worst season. His ballhandling has been a huge issue, in addition to his inability to shoot catch-and-shoot threes.

Furthermore, he's constantly getting stripped on drives. To make matters worse, he hasn't seemed to be able to take accountability for his struggles.

Fred VanVleet 

Fred VanVleet was the Rockets' splash signing in the offseason. The team desperately needed a floor general and he was one of the better ones on the market.

He's been one of the least efficient players in the league, and it's not just his first time. He's a negative scorer and has even struggled defensively, which was supposed to be his calling.

He's also made bone-headed decisions and is overly consumed with feeding Alperen Sengun, even when it's not the best play.

2 Rockets players who should play more

Amen Thompson

Although the Rockets spent big on the aforementioned VanVleet in the offseason, the long-term point guard of the future is Amen Thompson, who the Rockets landed with the fourth pick. Although Thompson is still a raw and unpolished prospect, he's been an elite defender.

Thompson is easily the best point-of-attack defender on the team. And even though he's a non-shooter, he's still been highly impactful for the Rockets, both on the glass and as a defender. 

And his playmaking was his greatest feat entering the draft. The Rockets' best bet down the stretch would be to lean in to Thompson and play him more, which would be easiest done by benching Green.

Cam Whitmore

Cam Whitmore has been a mere plus for the Rockets. The former Villanova slasher is one of the youngest players in the league and would arguably be the first player chosen in the 2024 NBA Draft, if he stayed in college for another year.

The Rockets tried to bury him in the G-League, but he was easily proven to be too good for that level of competition. But he's still raw and needs more reps.

He's proven to be able to score (12 points on 46.7 percent from the field, 37 percent from three, 57.8 percent true shooting), but that's about all he's done well this season. Since the Rockets' season is essentially over, it would make sense to focus on Whitmore's growth and development down the stretch.

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