3 reasons why you should watch the Rockets this upcoming season

By Kurt Olson
2021 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
2021 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot / Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
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Kent Bazemore, Jae'Sean Tate
Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets / Bob Levey/Getty Images

2. The Houston Rockets will have exciting depth

Obviously, the star-studded names in basketball are one of the largest draws to watching the sport. However, the stars do not win by themselves. Getting to know the role players and bench players is a fun part of the NBA fan experience as well, and the Rockets have plenty to be excited about.

To start with some returning players, both Jae'Sean Tate and Kenyon Martin Jr. quickly became fan favorites during the 2020-21 season. Tate's hustle, defense, and tenacity remind fans of a former fan favorite, P.J. Tucker.

Watching him fluster opposing players and leave everything on the floor every night is fun to watch in a different way than your usual flashy scoring clinics and buzzer-beaters.

That is not to say the Rockets are without some athletic flash in their role players, however. KJ Martin has found a role somewhat similar to that of Gerald Green, another fan favorite of Rockets fans. What first seemed like a possible string of lucky blocks has turned into utter consistency from Martin, as he has blocked giant after giant throughout his time with the Rockets.

For some perspective, KJ (who is 6'6), has thrown the shots of Ivica Zubac (7'0), James Wiseman (7'0), the number three pick in the draft Evan Mobley (7'0), Rudy Gobert (7'1) twice, Kristaps Prozingis (7'3), Boban Marjanovic (7'4), and even Tacko Fall (7'5). Needless to say, Martin has embraced his role as Houston's giant-slayer.

In addition to Tate and Martin, the Rockets found a lot of young depth in this year's NBA draft. Alperen Sengun (selected 16th overall), Usman Garuba (selected 23rd overall), and Josh Christopher (selected 24th overall) are the three draftees the Rockets selected after picking Jalen Green at number two.

Alperen Sengun is a 6'9 forward/center who was the MVP of the Turkish league before being drafted by his Rockets. His play in the Summer League left many fans optimistic of his potential with the team, as he demonstrated a multi-faceted skillset.

If that small sample of his game is representative of things to come, he'll prove to be a solid modern big man in today's NBA by scoring in multiple ways, holding his own defensively, and facilitating scoring opportunities for others.

Usman Garuba will perhaps need the most work of the four draftees, as his offensive game seems to be the most limited. The Rockets will make attempts to develop this, but his defensive prowess is what got him selected by Houston.

The Summer League games only exemplified this further, as he demonstrated a high level of defensive effort, discipline, and savviness. Defense is something the team could have used last season, so he will certainly find his way to some playing time if he can develop a reliable offensive skillset.

Josh Christopher is actually a friend and former AAU teammate of Jalen Green, which will automatically provide some chemistry between the two. With what little has been seen of his game so far, Christopher has the tools to become a reliable dynamic guard for the team.

He has a go-to jumpshot that he seems comfortable with, an attack-centered mindset, and good build for a rookie NBA player. With an involved training staff and a willingness to work, Christopher can easily become a multi-faceted player with consistent minutes for the Rockets.

Even the most durable stars cannot play 48 minutes every night, so finding solid depth is important for a team attempting to mold a winning culture in the midst of a rebuild. So far, the front office led by Rockets GM Rafael Stone seems to be setting itself up for success quite well in this respect.

It, of course, remains to be seen how close to their ceilings these role players will get, but the level of potential that is already there certainly merits tuning in to find out.