Last season, the Houston Rockets were known as a toxic organization from top to bottom. With the mixture of immaturity as well as bad leadership, it was inevitable that change needed to happen. The Rockets parted ways with their previous head coach, Stephen Silas, while later hiring former Eastern Conference Champion Head Coach, Ime Udoka. Since the hiring of Udoka, the situation has allowed Houston to become a new destination where veteran talents want to suit up at the beginning of the 2023-24 season.
Once again, the Rockets had a lottery pick at number four in this year’s NBA Draft. Drafting Amen Thompson from Overtime Elite was a steal. The 6’7 guard is an excellent floor general who can run the offense in multiple ways. He can create ball movement while attacking for high-quality shots at the rim. Thompson’s defense also plays a role in his contribution to his team’s success. He’s a great on-ball defender who is good with closeouts and getting into passing lanes. Through the course of the NBA Summer League, Thompson has been a game-changer for the Rockets, which included a big win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
The big free agency signing for the Rockets was adding Fred VanVleet to their roster on a three-year $128 million contract. VanVleet isn’t probably isn’t the first name that many teams will pursue in free agency but can be very impactful to a young team. His journey to the NBA was unique as he went undrafted while spending time in the NBA G League. VanVleet’s hard work eventually paid off as he became a part of the Toronto Raptors’ rotation and contributed to their championship in 2019.
While Kyle Lowry’s tenure with the Raptors ended in 2021, VanVleet became the team’s starting point guard. With that being said, he showed his true value as a passer by making the right reads and finding his teammates for high-quality shots. Over the past two seasons, VanVleet has averaged seven assists and had 10 games this past season where he recorded 10 or more assists.
As the Rockets are building for the future, Fred VanVleet is a key veteran who can provide leadership on and off the floor. He’s a true professional who has playoff experience and can mentor the younger players on how to win in the NBA. VanVleet may not be known as a superstar but his voice in the locker room is respected due to his production in big situations.
Dillon Brooks may be the most hated man in the NBA. It’s understandable when a player attempts to harass star players with trash-talking and physical play. Brook’s antics may have gone overboard during the Memphis Grizzlies’ first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers. However, he’s a player that any team would love to have.
Brooks signed with the Rockets for four years worth $80 million. What does he bring to a young team? Well, he’s a player who can set the tone on the defensive end. Minus the antics, Brooks can wreak havoc on that end of the floor and force offensive players to become uncomfortable. His presence defensively as a member of the Grizzlies allowed them to be known as one of the best defensive teams in the NBA.
Yes, Dillon Brooks is not a fan favorite at the moment. However, he has the opportunity to change the narrative of what his value is to an organization. It’s a fresh new start for him and he has the opportunity to contribute to the Rockets’ transition from a rebuilding team to potential playoff contenders. With Ime Udoka as the head coach, there’s no question he will utilize Brooks to his fullest potential.
Another great signing for the Rockets is Jeff Green, who is coming off winning a championship with the Denver Nuggets. On the positive end, the Rockets brought in veteran talent who have playoff experience and have won a couple of championships. It’s beneficial for the franchise as they move forward in a new direction.
As of right now, my prediction is the Rockets’ ceiling is the Play-In Tournament, which is a big improvement compared to having the second-to-worst record in the Western Conference this past season. They are possibly a few pieces away from elevating as true playoff contenders. To compete in the West, it’s required to have a star player or possibly two. That could be a position for either Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith Jr., or even Amen Thompson could potentially fill that role as the star player. The Rockets’ future is bright moving forward and will be a team to look out for as a future playoff contender.