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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1. Superstar

Every true contending roster needs a superstar to lead their charge. The Rockets for years did it with James Harden. They had Yao Ming, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Moses Malone before that. It takes an All-Star and top-tier talent to make the playoffs and have a shot to go on a deep run.

Fred VanVleet is a fringe All-Star, but nobody includes him in the league’s top 20 players. He is a serviceable number two or three on a playoff team but cannot be the ace. The Rockets are better for signing him, and still should not expect him to lead them on a deep run.

That leaves Houston with two avenues to finding this one. Develop somebody or get a superstar via trade. The Rockets owe the Thunder two first-round picks, but they have two incoming from other teams. It leaves Houston with virtually all of its capital to trade if they want to go all-in.

Jalen Green, Amen Thompson, and Jabari Smith Jr. have superstar potential. The Rockets have six players on their roster under 23 years old. All of those talents could break out and be in the running for All-Star status at some point in their career. Houston must help their young talent grow and reach a new level.

The Houston Rockets will likely be back in the lottery in 2024 and praying their first-rounder lands in the top four, so they can keep it. If not, it heads to Oklahoma City. The pressure is on in Space City, so stay tuned to see how the team responds.

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