It's been just nine months since James Harden was shipped to Brooklyn, leaving the Houston Rockets with a stack of draft picks and a cloudy future.
Fast forward to today and what initially looked like a long rebuild ahead, the front office has cleverly maneuvered free agency and the NBA draft, establishing a solid foundation of Christian Wood, Kevin Porter Jr., No.2 overall draft pick Jalen Green, No. 16 pick Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba, Kenyon Martin Jr., Jae'Sean Tate, Josh Christopher and Dante Exum, alongside veterans Eric Gordon, Daniel Theis, and Danuel House.
As they look to develop their young core, the dynamic backcourt of Porter Jr. and Jalen Green, appears ready to take on the lions share of the offensive responsibilities this season, with John Wall and the Rockets working on a trade.
In their first pre-season game together, the explosive scoring combo guards gave Rockets fans a glimpse of what to expect this season, with Porter Jr. pouring in 25 points in 29 minutes on a scorching 9-of-16 from the field and 5-of-9 from the 3-point line.
Sure, he's no James Harden, but the ease in which Porter Jr. gets to his spots and confidently fires away would make you believe otherwise.
🛴💨@Kevinporterjr pic.twitter.com/B9Xv2iIQ2P- Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) October 6, 2021
"He is finding his way as far as making plays for others and making plays for himself," head coach Stephen Silas said post-game.
Last season, the 21-year-old averaged 16.6 points and 6.3 assists per game and as he develops as the team's primary ball-handler, Porter Jr. has set himself the lofty goal of averaging 10 assists a game in 2021-22.
Alongside 19-yer-old Jalen Green, the young Rockets duo are building an uber-athletic version of the Splash Brothers in Houston, with both guards capable of filling it up on any given night. Porter Jr. delivered a 50-point, 11 assist masterpiece against the Bucks last season, while Green is widely considered the best scorer in the 2021 draft class. In the annual GM survey, 47 percent of the votes went to Green as the best rookie in the incoming class.
In the 125-119 win over the Wizards, Green finished with 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting, going 0-of-6 from deep, but his aggressiveness attacking the basket was on full display as he used his size and speed to get into the paint.
🚀🚀@JalenGreen pic.twitter.com/KN0jl3FNjZ- Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) October 6, 2021
"Electric. Very quick. As he learns and grows, he's going to be pretty good," Silas said of the rookie.
In today's position-less era, having two dynamic scorers in the backcourt that can freely get buckets is at a premium and Silas plans to leverage their ability to play off the ball to "play fast and in space,", using Theis and Wood in a ton of pick-and-rolls.
After their first hit-out together, it's easy to see the Rockets becoming a League Pass darling this season.
"We're going to be fun to watch, for sure," said Silas.
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