The 2021-22 NBA season is set to tip off on Oct. 19 (ET). In preparation for the upcoming season, we're dedicating one day between now and the start of the season to each team in the league.
Up next is the Houston Rockets.
2020-21 season record
17-55, 15th in Western Conference
Jalen Green, No. 2 pick in 2021 NBA Draft
Alperen Sengun, No. 16 pick in 2021 NBA Draft
Usman Garuba, No. 23 pick in 2021 NBA Draft
Josh Christopher, No. 24 pick in 2021 NBA Draft
Daniel Theis, free agency
Kelly Olynyk, free agency
Avery Bradley, free agency
Sterling Brown, free agency
|PG||Kevin Porter Jr.||D.J. Augustin||Dante Exum||John Wall*|
|SG||Jalen Green||Josh Christopher||David Nwaba||Armoni Brooks|
|SF||Jae'Sean Tate||Eric Gordon||Danuel House Jr.||Anthony Lamb|
|PF||Daniel Theis||Kenyon Martin Jr.||Usman Garuba||Tyler Bey|
|C||Christian Wood||Alperen Sengun|
* John Wall is not expected to play for the Rockets as the franchise tries to find a trade destination for the five-time All-Star
3 key storylines
The Rookie of the Year is...
Green showcased his potential in his one season with the G League Ignite.
In 15 games, Green posted averages of 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals on .461/.365/.829 shooting splits. He ended his season on a high, exploding for 30 points, seven assists and five rebounds in the Ignite's loss to the Raptors 905 in the first round of the playoffs.
While it wasn't enough for him to be selected No. 1 overall in the 2021 NBA Draft, Green proved himself to be the type of dynamic scorer who could one day lead the league in scoring.
"The Rockets needed a player they can build their offence around following the departure of James Harden last season, and they got that in Green," NBA.com's draft expert Kyle Irving wrote on draft night . "If the 19-year-old reaches his full potential, I truly believe he could lead the NBA in scoring some day."
The Rockets aren't expected to be very competitive this season, but there's no shortage of talent around Green in Porter Jr. and Wood. Even so, he'll have all the opportunity he needs to make a run at taking home the Rookie of the Year award.
The emergence of Kevin Porter Jr.
Porter Jr. has had a rocky start to his NBA career, but he appears to have found a home in Houston.
Following his rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Porter Jr. was traded to the Rockets a month into the 2021-22 season. He didn't make his debut with the Rockets until March 11, but he wasted no time putting himself on notice by scoring 20 or more points in three of his first five games.
That turned out to be a taste of what was to come, punctuated by a 50-point, 11-assist performance in a win over the Milwaukee Bucks near the end of the season.
In the process, Porter Jr. became the youngest player in NBA history with a 50-point, 10-assist game.
Kevin Porter Jr. (career-high 50 PTS, 11 AST, 9 3PM) had himself a night 🔥 pic.twitter.com/nYMn1XpCcR- NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 30, 2021
Entering his third season in the NBA, Porter Jr. is one of the favourites to be crowned Most Improved Player. If he can pick up from where he left off, it's not hard to see why.
The future of John Wall
It's been reported that Wall and the Rockets have agreed to work together to find a trade. As a result, Wall is not expected to suit up for the Rockets this season, clearing the way for Green and Porter Jr. to start.
After sitting out the entire 2019-20 season due to injuries, Wall appeared in 40 games with the Rockets last season with averages of 20.6 points, 6.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals. He showed flashes of his former self - Wall had a total of five 30-point games and six 10-assist games - but shot only 40.4 percent from the field and 31.7 percent from 3-point range on the season.
Wall is on the books for $44.3 million this season and has a player option in his contract worth $47.4 million next season.
That's a lot of money for a team to take on, so it'll be interesting to see if the Rockets can find a new home for Wall and what type of return they get for him.
5 games to watch
Oct. 20 at Minnesota Timberwolves
Green's NBA debut and a matchup with last year's No. 1 overall pick in Anthony Edwards.
Nov. 6 at Denver Nuggets
Sengun told ESPN's Mike Schmitz that he studies Nikola Jokic and wants to "play in the same style that he has." This will be his first opportunity to face the league's reigning MVP.
Nov. 10 vs. Detroit Pistons
The first meeting between Rookie of the Year favourites Cade Cunningham and Green will be televised on ESPN in the United States.
Dec. 10 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
The last time the Rockets and Bucks played in Houston, Porter Jr. exploded for 50 points and 11 assists. It'll be fun watching Porter Jr. and Jrue Holiday battle again.
Jan. 31 vs. Golden State Warriors
The third and final meeting between Houston and Golden State this season. Hopefully Klay Thompson will be back for this one, but this will be another chance to see Green battle his former teammate and fellow rookie Jonathan Kuminga.
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