Rapid risers: Houston Rockets
The Rockets are one of four teams on the right trajectory
BY DAVID THORPE
Happy Thanksgiving, TrueHoopers!
David Thorpe, in particular, is thankful for four teams on the rise: the Magic, Pacers, Rockets, and Thunder. A couple of these teams have new stars becoming household names. Three are helmed by youthful coaches who have a chance to be significant postseason decision-makers in the near future—starting now. A fourth coach, an experienced hand, has a ring to his credit.
So, over the next four days, David Thorpe will be profiling each of these teams, looking at what’s behind their rapid—and, in a couple cases, earlier-than-expected—rise to relevancy. Of course, he also has lingering questions.
Today, David kicks things off with the Houston Rockets, who have a center on the fringe of becoming an All-Star. But will the Rockets’ other young guys develop quick enough for them to launch into the next level?
Let’s talk turkey.
The Rockets are taking off
The Rockets’ launch potential begins with their young center, Alperen Şengün. I had Şengün ranked as a top-eight prospect back in the 2021 Draft, thinking he’s a smaller, less-gifted, but reasonable facsimile of the world’s best player: Nikola Jokić. Şengün is overwhelmingly special on offense. In fact, you can almost say that he can impact games on a Stephen Curry level for that reason—so talented on offense that even passable defense will be enough most nights.