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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2. Defensive anchor

Udoka’s emphasis on defense could have a massive hole at the five. Alperen Sengun is projected as the starter, but he cannot guard on the perimeter. It makes switching impossible and will force the Rockets to play drop coverage with Sengun hanging by the basket. The 21-year-old is not a strong rim protector or shot-blocker either. Can Udoka build his defense around a center without a place?

If not, the Rockets still need a defensive anchor. Jock Landale and Boban Marjanovic are not answers. Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason, or Jeff Green can play some small ball five, but they cannot be relied upon to control the paint or protect the rim.

How much does Udoka use Sengun, especially after a defensive miscue? The Rockets big man draws comparisons to Nikola Jokic and a massive leap in the MVP’s game was going from below average to above average defensively. Sengun has not made that jump, and it will be difficult for the Rockets to reach the postseason until he does.

Ime Udoka had months to work up a plan, and fans should expect the Houston Rockets to have ideas. If Alperen Sengun struggles mightily defensively, the franchise could be in the market for someone at the trade deadline. They attempted to sign Brook Lopez in free agency and a trade may be necessary to fill this void.