3. This is only the beginning
The biggest reason to be excited about this streak is the timing. We expected some growing pains for our young guys while the new vets carried the load and helped to implement the coaching staff’s scheme.
That has been far from the case. They look ahead of schedule.
Alperen Şengün already looks like an All-Star, yet there is still so much to be desired from this team. Tari Eason has only just come back from injury and Amen Thompson was sidelined by his ankle before he could really get his feet under him.
Jalen Green has continued some of his inconsistent shooting woes even though he’s shown a ton of improvement across his game. Jabari just doesn’t look like the Jabari that closed out 2022 and took over the Summer League.
We’ve had plenty of timeouts and subs where Udoka and assistant coach Ben Sullivan have had to pull guys aside and either remind them of their assignment or try and light a fire under them.
There’s no reason we can’t expect each of these things to eventually round into form over the course of this long season.
Even though they have faced a lot of injury luck in their matchups, this team has whooped up on some teams with championship aspirations. Regardless of the opponent, this is how you know when a team is turning a corner. They show they can beat the teams they’re “supposed” to beat and they prove they can close out close games.
Ime Udoka told us after he was hired, “One thing I have never done is not made the playoffs so we want to take that step here as well.” Nine games in, it's time to start believing the Houston Rockets can take that step in 2023.