The Houston Rockets are one of the younger teams in the league. When you actually sort by age, they come in at an average age of 24.9 years, which is fairly young. And before the Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks signings, they were even younger.
The Rockets have added guys who are young and have a ton of potential. In this last draft, the Rockets took Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore, who have shown flashes of being vital pieces to a potentially winning organization in the future.
Last year when the Rockets took Jabari Smith Jr. and Tari Eason, a lot of the conversations were on their No. 3 pick. Sure, Smith was far more polarizing, could shoot it, and brought everything the Rockets needed at the time. However, Eason had a good rookie season, and he opened up about it recently.
The soon-to-be second-year forward is happy he isn't a rookie anymore.
"It feels good not to be referred to as a rookie, knowing I have one year under my belt," Eason told The Athletic's Kelly Iko in a recent interview. "But at the same time, not being a rookie also comes with expectations and more things. Knowing that I'm not a rookie anymore also means more responsibility to be a better player."
Why Rockets forward Tari Eason should be happy to have his first year out of the way
And Eason is right. There is definitely that added expectation now from not just the fans but the media and even himself that he has to improve. If he gets worse, people won't like that, and that's when his confidence can start getting worse.
But it's a balancing act. On the one hand, you are glad you aren't a rookie anymore.
Maybe your hardest year ever is now out of the way. As Eason said, you have one under your belt now, and so eternally, you think the only way is up from there.
Then you think, well, I have to get better now. That doesn't mean the work is done, and in fact, it's only just beginning.
The good thing almost any rookie will say about getting their first year out of the way, they no longer have to do rookie duties. Eason may not say that, but it very much feels amazing not having to pick up the tab for your teammates anymore.