The Houston Rockets want to contend this season. They've made that clear.
They're tired of being doormats in the Western Conference and want to experience the taste of postseason play again. They've talked about it ad nauseam.
They've even coined it phase two of their rebuild. Phase one was about tanking and stockpiling draft picks.
But the credit card bill is due from the Russell Westbrook trade and the Oklahoma City Thunder are ready to collect. The Rockets hired Ime Udoka, a Gregg Popovich disciple, and paid him more than any coach in franchise history.
This made it clear what they were expecting.
In Udoka, the Rockets landed someone who will hold the players accountable. No longer will it be okay to give half effort on defense.
Udoka isn't going to tolerate that. This means the players will have to prove themselves to the new sheriff.
4 Rockets players with the most to prove next season.
Nothing will be given, as none of the current players have played for/under Udoka. Starting positions will be earned.
Rotational minutes will be earned.
With this understanding, several players will enter training camp with a ton to prove. And some more than others.
Let's dive into the players with the most to prove.