Houston Rockets: Player comps for the Rockets’ 2021-22 rookie class

N.B. Lindberg
2021 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
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Josh Christopher, Houston Rockets
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Houston Rockets' Josh Christopher rookie comp: Marcus Smart

Josh Christopher was not expected to go as high as the 24th pick. Most big boards had him going in the 30s, not the mid-20s. However, his summer league showing put the doubters on hold. 

If Christopher matches Marcus Smart’s rookie season then the Rockets front office needs to be celebrated. In Smart's rookie campaign, he averaged 7.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 27 minutes a game. On top of that, he posted a positive defensive box plus/minus and established himself as a low-usage defensive spark plug. 

Marcus Smart, Houston Rockets
Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets - Game Five / Steven Ryan/Getty Images

For Christopher to match that level of production he’ll need to earn serious minutes, which is a win for any player selected with the 24th pick. Long term, Christopher projects more as a scorer, while Smart developed more as a passer. 

Smart and Christopher are strong and can guard multiple positions. Christopher has a little more length but Smart makes up for it with his legendary tenacity. To be as good a defender as Smart was in his rookie season is a tall order, but it’s a challenge that Christopher should relish. 

In any case, the hope is that Christopher can become a defensive stalwart quickly so his shooting, passing, and overall offensive game can develop. If his defense isn’t quite as good as expected, it’ll be hard for him to find minutes to grow as a player.