5 Holes Rockets still have to fill to return to the playoffs

The Rockets improved this summer, but it wasn't enough.
Houston Rockets, Jabari Smith Jr., Jalen Green
Houston Rockets, Jabari Smith Jr., Jalen Green / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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The Houston Rockets did not hide their offseason goals and were quick to accomplish them. The franchise wanted to add talent in free agency to exit their rebuild. They signed Fred VanVleet, Dillion Brooks Jeff Green, and Jock Landale, but narrowly missed on Brook Lopez. It was a wild summer that could turn into a regretful one.

The Rockets want to make the playoffs in 2024, but that is a massive leap in a stacked Western Conference. Houston won 42 games combined over the last two years, and it took exactly that many victories to make the playoffs in the West last season. The Thunder snuck into the Play-In Tournament with 40 but were quickly eliminated. Can the Rockets make a 20-win improvement with the pieces they added?

Houston still has work to do if they plan on reaching the playoffs in 2024. There are multiple pieces left to add, developments to be made, and plenty of work to do under new head coach Ime Udoka. Can Houston fit it all in before it is too late?

Holes Houston Rockets must fill to return to the playoffs

5. 6th Man

Fred VanVleet and Jalen Green are locked in as their starting backcourt, but who fills the sixth-man role? Assuming Jabari Smith Jr., Dillon Brooks, and Alperen Sengun round out their opening night starting five, that leaves Tari Eason, Jeff Green, and two rookies coming off the bench.

Amen Thompson was the fourth overall pick, but the Rockets cannot expect him to come in and make an immediate impact, despite his talent. Rookies always struggle with efficiency and adapting to the speed of the game, and Thompson has a larger learning curve after playing lesser competition on the Overtime Elite circuit.

The Rockets will stagger VanVleet, Green, Sengun, and Smith Jr. enough to keep two scorers on the floor at all times, but having that bench sparkplug is always an advantage, especially when one of the starters does not have it rolling. Houston should be searching for a sixth man who can come in and get buckets if they plan on making the playoffs, but it is far from their biggest need.