Ime Udoka's latest quote could signal a much needed change for the Rockets

Houston Rockets v Cleveland Cavaliers
Houston Rockets v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

It’s well-known that the Houston Rockets value Fred VanVleet. We hear Alperen Sengun rave about his impact quite regularly.

And understandably so, as the Rockets were in a bad spot, after being doormats in the Western Conference for three consecutive seasons. The Rockets were always that team that teams would rest their star players against or sit their players in the final period.

Or better yet, keep their guys in so they could break individual records or achieve personal milestones (looking at you Damian Lillard).

VanVleet was brought in to change the culture, both on and off the court. And the Rockets wanted a true table-setter.

VanVleet has certainly checked all those boxes (although his shot selection isn’t the greatest). He’s averaging 17.2 points. 8.4 assists (career-best and sixth-best in the league), 3.8 rebounds, 56.1 percent true shooting, 38.6 percent from long-range (on 7.9 attempts), and ranks 10th in 3-pointers made thus far.

Not to mention he ranks fifth in assist- to-turnover ratio among starters.

All of that is good. Now on to the bad.

VanVleet has averaged 37.1 minutes per contest, which is tied for the fourth-most minutes in the league. The league-leader is Tyrese Maxey, who comes in right at 37.5 minutes.

This isn’t quite what you want to see from an undersized guard like VanVleet, as it’s surely a recipe for disaster, or a good way to get a player like VanVleet injured.

VanVleet is often on the floor even after the games have been decided, which is what we saw on Friday night against the Charlotte Hornets, as he played four minutes in the fourth quarter, despite the Rockets’ 99-78 lead.

After Friday’s game, my counterpart Will Eudy, asked Rockets coach Ime Udoka about VanVleet’s hefty workload.

Udoka's latest quote should have Rockets fans jumping for joy.

"A big part was Amen [Thompson] being out those 20-plus games due to injury. While we were figuring out some things, he was obviously efficient and we relied heavily upon him. So, we don’t wanna have his numbers that high.

It’s something he’s kinda used to, playing high minutes in Toronto. He never wants to come out of the game but as much as we can, getting Amen back and getting other guys to contribute to that level could shave it down as much as possible."

Amen's play has warranted a need for an uptick in playing time, but we still haven't quite seen that, which was evident in the Portland Trail Blazers loss, leading some fans to call for Udoka's ouster.

Either way, it's good to see him acknowledge a need for a reduced workload for VanVleet. He's too important to the team to risk an injury.

Especially when it can be prevented.