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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3. Role buy-in

New head coach Ime Udoka is known for his defense and toughness. He will be blunt with his players and hold them accountable. Udoka helped the Celtics reach the NBA Finals in 2022 and expectations are elevated in Houston. Can the 46-year-old get his players to buy into his system and their roles?

Does Udoka try to make Dillon Brooks a 3-and-D wing? The Grizzlies attempted this last season, and Brooks wasn’t happy. Does the 6’7 wing embrace a secondary offensive role in Houston to let their young talent develop? It seems unlikely.

Can Udoka maximize his defense with three negative options on the floor? Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. have potential, but there is no guarantee that they live up to that hype. Alperen Sengun figures to be the starting center, but his limited mobility and slow feet make him a defensive liability in the modern NBA. Can Udoka figure out this puzzle and make them an average or better defensive unit after finishing 29th in defensive rating last season?

It will be a tall task to get all the young talent on the roster to reign things in and buy into their optimal role. Ime Udoka must do it and has to tailor his system to the team’s personnel.