The 2023-24 Houston Rockets expect to be much different, as they figure to be better than the product that's been on display in recent years. The Rockets were forced to hit the reset button in 2020-21, as they traded away two superstars in James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
The Rockets haven't exactly been pleasant to watch, as they suffered a major talent deficit compared to essentially every team they've played against. But that was what's been coined as phase one of the Rockets' rebuild, and now the franchise finds themselves in phase two, which figures to be a contending state.
The Rockets brought in Ime Udoka to replace Stephen Silas and acquired Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks to provide veteran leadership to a young team that's been a bottom-feeder in the league. The Rockets have stockpiled young talent as a result of tanking and bottoming out, which has gifted them three consecutive top-four draft picks, which were used on Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., and Amen Thompson.
Rockets receive encouraging sign as they aspire to turn the corner
It's unclear whether the Rockets will ultimately be able to turn the corner in 2023-24, but what is clear is that they expect to be much better. They've told everyone that they'll be a better group.
Udoka made it clear during his introductory press conference that he has yet to miss the playoffs and doesn't plan to start now. The major media outlets have listened, as the Rockets landed four primetime games, which is a stark difference from the last handful of years, in which the Rockets didn't get any national spotlight.
Based on the team ratings in NBA 2K24, the Rockets could find themselves in the same stratosphere as the Dallas Mavericks and Toronto Raptors, who were each given an overall rating of 80.
And based on HoopsHype's top 100 list, the Rockets are well-positioned to take a leap, as they had four players in the top 100: Jabari Smith Jr., Alperen Sengun, Jalen Green, and Fred VanVleet. At the end of the day, the Rockets will have to win games on the court and prove that their losing ways are a thing of the past once the season starts, but it's encouraging that the national media outlets are already expecting to see them ascend and take a leap in 2023-24.