The Rockets’ Jalen Green Factor
The Rockets' best bet to steal a game is for Jalen Green to go nuclear. There isn’t a defender in the world that can consistently stay in front of him, and he has the burst to finish over any rim protector. Green’s shot comes and goes, as is the case for many young score-first guards, but when he gets hot, there’s not much stopping him from going off.
The Blazers' backcourt of Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons is electric on offense but have serious defensive limitations. If Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. can captialize, there's a real chance the pair could combine for more than 60 points. Throw in a Lillard or Simons off-shooting night, and that’s another game the Rockets could steal.
The 2022-23 season is shaping up to be tough
The Rockets are unlikely to start the season 0-19, but they don’t play the San Antonio Spurs, who have looked utterly incompetent, until the 25th game of the season. Barring trades and injuries, wins are going to be hard to come by for the Rockets. The league is as talented as ever, and it seems like every team, save a few, is pushing for the playoffs.
Making matters worse, the Jazz and Pacers, two teams expected to blow up their rosters and tank aggressively, have kept quality veterans around. Neither should factor in the playoff picture, but they’re also not going to be complete pushovers until they hit the self-destruct button.
The future is bright in Houston. Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. are true blue-chip talents, Kevin Porter Jr. continues to improve, Tari Eason might have been the steal of the 2022 draft, and Alperen Sengun has some star offensive traits. Unfortunately, potential is just the capacity to achieve something in the future, and the 2022-23 NBA season is now.
The Rockets may start the season 1-20, or they could make good on their potential and go 8-13 or better. However, the quest for the season’s first win could take some time thanks to a brutal opening schedule and a few teams not fully committing to a rebuild. Injuries, rest, trades, and potential being actualized could change the equation quickly for the Rockets, but until that happens, enjoy the competitiveness.