The 1st half of the 2020-21 season has been an emotional rollercoaster for the Houston Rockets. It has been interesting not just for the fans but for the organization in general.
The blockbuster trade to acquire John Wall sending Russell Westbrook to Washington, the clear frustration from James Harden and drama that insured his eventual departure are two pieces to the puzzle for this season. We’ll get into 5 things that we should look forward to from the Houston Rockets second half of season.
1. Christian Wood (of course)
The biggest and most underrated move the Rockets front office made this offseason was trading for Christian Wood. He proved to be a potential force in his time with the Detroit Pistons. Even though he only averaged 13.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 0.9 BLK in 62 games with the Pistons, his numbers as a starter warranted the hype surrounding his name.
With the Rockets, Wood is currently putting up numbers that quite possibly would have given him his 1st All-Star nod if not for an unfortunate ankle injury. 22 PPG, 10.RPG and 1.5 BLKS. It’s clear to every one that watches Rockets basketball who’s back the future of this franchise is on.
Time will tell if he can fill the shoes of arguably the greatest center in NBA history in the great Hakeem Olajuwon. Wood has the talent and potential to lead this team into the future but he still has lots of room to grow.
A young and promising star that eventually shoots himself in the foot with off the court issues. We’ve heard similar stories but how those stories end always vary. Kevin Porter Jr. is a prospect that has the talent and potential to be a top 30 player in a couple seasons. After the Cavaliers traded Porter to the Rockets for a future unprotected 2nd round pick he was sent to the Rockets G-League affiliate Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Porter Jr. was expected to prove himself in the G-League bubble for an opportunity at a second chance in the league. After 15 games Porter Jr. has posted insane numbers including the only triple double of the G-League season. Porter Jr. averaged 24 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 7.2 APG and 1.5 STLS. He has displayed basketball IQ and a willingness to lead a team of young men with his play on the court.
The Rockets called Porter Jr. up to the NBA and intend for him to join the big boys in the 2nd half of the season. He is another young talent the Rockets can look forward to in not just this season but for the foreseeable future.
3. Stephen Silas
The 2nd half of the season for the Rockets will be a chance to have a change of pace for Stephan Silas. Unfortunately, we still have not been able to see the full potential of a Silas led team.
After the instability of the roster, limited to no practice time with the COVID protocols and the inconsistency of the play from his team, including timely injuries, Silas has faced these obstacles with a smile. After the trade deadline the team will have a clear direction and should be fully healthy.
Before this dreadful 13 game losing streak the Rockets looked like they could be a problem for top teams if they could manage to squeak into the play-in tournament. Silas led this team to a top 5 defense in the month of January and the offense didn’t look completely nonexistent. It will be interesting to see how the 2nd half of the season goes for the Rockets. Hopefully Silas can turn this ship around before it sinks.
The Rockets haven’t been able to see rookies flourish much in recent history due to the historic run the Rockets had under the reign of Harden and GM Darryl Morey. Jae’sean Tate has looked like an All-Rookie 1st team candidate over the course of the season and has plenty of room to grow. The last Rockets rookie that has this much success was Clint Capela in 2014.
Tate is one of the most versatile defenders in the league and his 3-point shot has improved making him a menace in every aspect of the game. In the 2nd half of the season, we should see more of Tate and his ability to play positions 3-5, giving him even more opportunity at getting valuable reps and playing time.
5. Rafeal Stone
The 2nd half of the season has a lot of uncertainty to it and it’s Rafeal Stone’s job to bring some stability to the organization in terms of roster moves and potential draft picks. He’s done a good job so far with what he had to work with but there’s still plenty of work to do. The trade deadline is approaching very fast and this team needs to decide what direction they are going in.
The Rockets have a few expiring contracts they can possibly move like P.J. Tucker and the newly added Victor Oladipo. Here is a link to an article detailing a possible trade for Oladipo by our writer Justin Churchill. Stone has a tall task in front of him but he learned from one of the best GM’s in the game in Darryl Morey so I have faith he’ll get the job done.