It's become an annual tradition for the Houston Rockets to be the subject of steady and constant criticism from the national media. Essentially anything the Rockets have done has drawn skepticism and put them in a negative light.
We saw a healthy dosage of it when the Rockets were at the forefront of the analytical movement, which is now being deployed throughout the league. In fact, many continue to blame the Rockets having gone 0-for-27 from 3-point range in Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals on their analytical approach towards the game, while conveniently forgetting about the officiating tilt that was admitted by the league afterwards, in addition to the fact that the Rockets were playing without Chris Paul, who is partly known for his signature mid-range shot.
Last season the Rockets became criticized for what they got back in the James Harden trade, despite getting a historic haul of draft capital, which will be pivotal for the Rockets' rebuild. For many, the decision to pass on both Ben Simmons and Caris LeVert was foolish by the Rockets' brainpower, although both players have significant contracts and wouldn't have moved the needle much for the franchise.
Have the Houston Rockets finally gotten back in the good graces of the national media?
But although the Rockets have traditionally been portrayed in a negative light by the media, the 2021-22 team has seemed to reverse that change, as several in the national media seem to be rooting for the Rockets to succeed. This was evident on Sirius XM's Summer League Special, which aired on Friday and featured ESPN's Rosalyn Gold-Onwude and Amin Elhassan, who simultaneously covers the NBA for Sirius XM's NBA radio and the Dan Le Batard Show.
Gold-Onwude shared her thoughts on how the Rockets will fare in the upcoming 2021-22 season:
"They won't be top-5 or top-6 but I think the Rockets are actually going to be a fun team, alot of young excitement. It's a nice mix of youth and vets.
This is a team that has players with experience of winning at a high level. Whether that's Eric Gordon or John Wall or even Christian Wood, who had a All-Star caliber season.
That team can compete to beat anybody on any given day."
Onwude also continued and explained why Rockets' second-overall pick Jalen Green, who has made no qualms about the fact that he wanted to be selected first overall by the Detroit Pistons, should be happy about the fact he wound up in Houston.
"And I think about Jalen Green, and he was talking about he should have been the #1 draft pick. I actually think it was a good thing for him. The grounds are more fertile in Houston than it is in Detroit.
For one, Houston is hungry for a new culture and a new face coming off of the Harden era. Two, he's got mentors, whether it's John Wall or Eric Gordon, it's not like it's all on one player like help us, save us."
Elhassan then shared his thoughts on how the Rockets will do in the upcoming season and gave even more optimism than Gold-Onwude.
"They have had some nice finds over the years. They have Danuel House. I like him as a player. Obviously Kevin Porter Jr. played really well for them.
I also like them picking up Daniel Theis. I've liked him for awhile. I was surprised that the Celtics traded him to Chicago.
He plays hard and can shoot the three. He can pop out every now and then and hit that shot, I think that really opens the court up for your other players when your big can do that.
I think they are a play-in team but I think there is a scenario where this team gels and comes together and is really good."
Elhassan gushed about Rockets head coach Stephen Silas and shared his appreciation with Silas' journey towards becoming a head coach, as he spent decades as an assistant coach before landing this opportunity with the Rockets.
"This is a guy that could have tread right on that Silas name, but he carved his own path, he was patient, he was respected everywhere he went, was praised everywhere he went, and he got a shot. And that's why you hear the appreciation in his voice. It was a great experience.
Even though he had an awful season, great experience because he knows how hard and far he came to get to that spot. So, Stephen Silas, names like that always kind of make me smile.
I'm not being facetious, I really do root for guys like that."
Regardless of whether the Rockets make the play-in tournament in 2021-22 or whether they finish as a lottery team again, one thing is for certain: it will certainly be a fun, young team. And with the media starting to cheer for the new-look Rockets, the bumps and bruises will be even more bearable.