Is Amen Thompson the most exciting member of the Houston Rockets' young core?

Will the Houston Rockets build around Amen Thompson?
Will the Houston Rockets build around Amen Thompson? / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The Houston Rockets are a mystery box.

Those aren't our words. They're the words of Sam Quinn of CBS Sports. We tend to agree with him - nobody knows what the future holds for this young core.

In Quinn's mind, the best path runs through Amen Thompson. He thinks Thompson is the most exciting prospect in this core.

"If (Thompson) ever learns to shoot, he's going to be the best player in this core"

Sam Quinn, CBS Sports

Does he have a point?

Can Houston Rockets guard be a franchise player?

We're burying the lede here.

This quote comes from an article ranking every head coaching job in the NBA. Quinn has the Rockets' position ranked 17th. Most of the concerns about the gig are tied to the uncertainty surrounding this team's future.

"The Rockets are a bit of a mystery box at this point, but a promising one. Alperen Sengun and Jalen Green have both had All-Star-caliber stretches, but neither is a proven franchise cornerstone."

Sam Quinn, CBS Sports

Many Rockets fans will disagree. They'll insist that Sengun is well-established as a cornerstone player. Fair enough. Sengun is coming off a season where he averaged 21.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 5.0 assists at the age of 21.

That combination of youth and production is remarkable. Sengun is overwhelmingly likely to make All-Star games in his career. If you consider him a cornerstone player, that's a reasonable position.

Yet, concerns about Sengun's defensive limitations remain. A Rockets organization that allegedly tried to sign Brook Lopez this summer may share those concerns. By contrast, there are no concerns about Thompson's defensive ability.

That doesn't mean he's a can't-miss cornerstone.

Houston Rockets guard needs to keep working

Quinn adds the all-important caveat - "if he ever learns to shoot".

It's worth noting that Thompson is far off the mark. He's not just a questionable shooter - he's an outright dreadful one. If his stardom hinges on his ability to develop a shot, it's not a safe bet.

Luckily, there are other paths to stardom for Thompson. If he played alongside a reliable stretch big, he could become an automatic paint touch. When he doesn't have the ball, Thompson can thrive in the dunker's spot with his absurd athleticism and positional size.

Could Sengun become that stretch big? It's entirely possible. He hit 29.7% of his 1.8 three-point attempts per game in 2023-24. That's not a great mark, but with moderate improvement, Sengun can command a defender from behind the arch. If he can't improve, we'll see how Houston chooses to build this roster.

That's part of the mystery.