3 things the Rockets need to become true title contenders

Houston Rockets v Cleveland Cavaliers
Houston Rockets v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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1. Rim-protecting big man

The Houston Rockets' primary focus in the offseason was on the defensive side of the floor, as they ranked in the bottom of the league in defensive efficiency for three consecutive seasons. This explains the Udoka hire (partly), and the signings of VanVleet and Brooks.

The Rockets already had Tari Eason and Jae'Sean Tate on the roster- two elite defensive wings- so these offseason additions all but locked down the perimeter. However, the Rockets missed out on Milwaukee Bucks big man Brook Lopez, who was also on their wishlist.

Granted, this ultimately has become a good thing, as Alperen Sengun's role wouldn't be nearly as significant if Lopez was in the picture. In fact, Sengun would've likely been relegated to a Sixth Man role, which seems laughable considering how stellar he's played this season (21.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 54.4 percent from the field, 58.3 percent on 2-pointers, 60 percent true shooting).

Sengun is also battling on the defensive end, which he emphasized all summer. However, he's still not a rim protector and he may never be. The Rockets were forced to pivot to Jock Landale after missing out on Lopez, and he's easily been the worst player on the roster, which has been a bit of a surprise after Landale's 2023 postseason run with the Phoenix Suns, which saw him outplay De'Andre Ayton quite regularly.

The Rockets are in dire need of a legitimate force in the paint and could find it difficult to add a quality defensive big man, as most teams typically hold on to those.

Sure, Clint Capela could be an option, but he's not near the defender or player that he once was. Stone and Udoka will have their work cut out for them on this front.

Dwight Howard maybe? Is that Kai Jones' music? Regardless, anything would be better than what we've seen from Landale.