Looking Back at the 2021 Houston Rockets

July 5th, 2021

By Alan Lu

The Houston Rockets were expected to not have a great year this season, as they had let their former general manager, Daryl Morey go, and they dealt Russell Westbrook for John Wall and a draft pick in order to speed up their rebuilding process. When they decided to trade James Harden however, they were surely going to end up with a losing record as a result.  They ended up having the worst record in the NBA this year, and the 2021 Houston Rockets finished with 17 wins and 55 losses. They ended up getting the second overall pick, and they also will get two more first round picks late in the upcoming draft.

Houston Rockets’ center, Christian Wood had a very good season in his first year with his new team, as he played really well for them when he was healthy. Currently, Wood is Houston’s best player that they have on their current roster.
(Photo:
Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images, via SB Nation’s The Dream Shake)

C Christian Wood
2021 (HOU): 41 GP, 21.0 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.2 BPG, 51 FG%, 37 3PT%, 63 FT%, 20 PER, 59 TS%, 2.8 WS, .100 WS48

Christian Wood had a solid season, as he excelled as a shooter, scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker on a very bad Houston Rockets’ team this year. 

On the downside, he dealt with a lingering ankle injury, and he struggled a bit with his on-ball defense, though his team just didn’t defend very well at all this year.  Still, Wood played well and he looks to be a key player to his team’s future.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting center in the NBA on the Houston Rockets
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3 stars

Houston Rockets’ rookie forward, Jae’Sean Tate had a very good rookie season, as he was far more productive than anticipated, and he made the 2020-21 NBA All-Rookie First Team this year.
(Photo:
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images, via Fansided’s Space City Scoop)

G-F Jae’Sean Tate
2021 (HOU): 70 GP, 11.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, 51 FG%, 31 3PT%, 13.8 PER, 58 TS%, 3.8 WS, .088 WS48

Jae’Sean Tate had played very well in the NBL, but it was uncertain as to how much his impact would be for the Houston Rockets or in the NBA this year.

Tate more than exceeded expectations, and he had a very good rookie season in the NBA this year.  He excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor, as he provided inside scorer, playmaking, rebounding, and solid defensive skills.  He still needs to improve his jump shot and outside shot, but he played far better than what was expected of him.  Tate has a bright future, and he will be a key player for the Rockets next year and likely for years to come.

2021 Season Grade: A
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starter/solid bench player on the Houston Rockets
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Note: His next two seasons are non-guaranteed, but Tate is expected to stay with the Rockets.

F Kelly Olynyk
2021 (MIA/HOU): 70 GP, 13.5 PPG, 7 RPG, 2.9 APG, 48 FG%, 34 3PT%, 83 FT%, 16.4 PER, 61 TS%, 5.1 WS, .121WS48

Kelly Olynyk had a productive season this year, as he excelled as a scorer and facilitator on offense, and he also was able to haul in plenty of rebounds to help his team in games.  He played very well for Houston down the stretch as he was acquired in a midseason trade. 

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role:  Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Note: Will be an impending UFA at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G John Wall
2021 (HOU): 40 GP, 20.6 PPG, 6.9 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 40 FG%, 32 3PT%, 75 FT%, 15.4 PER, 50 TS%, -0.2 WS, -.007 WS48

John Wall returned from a leg injury to provide scoring and some playmaking skills for his team, and he also did a good job of blocking shots, especially for a player his size.  Considering that he hadn’t played in 1 ½ years, that he was able to score so many points may have been sort of an achievement in itself.

On the other hand, Wall was a volume scorer that didn’t shoot the ball well, and he also struggled with his on-ball defense, as he had a -1.6 Defensive Box Plus Minus, and he rated poorly in most advanced defensive metrics.  His score-first tendencies combined with his inefficient shooting and mediocre defensive play suggests that he may have played too much and he didn’t quite give Houston enough of a return on their investment this year.

2021 Season Grade: D+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe starter, or bench player on the Houston Rockets
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

 Note: He will make over $44 million next season, and has a $47 million player option for the 2022-23 NBA season.

G-F Danuel House
2021 (HOU): 36 GP, 8.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.9 APG, 40 FG%, 35 3PT%, 65 FT%, 9.1 PER, 53 TS%, 0.5 WS, 0.026 WS48

House only played in 36 games as he missed time due to injuries.  He’s been a fairly solid role player in the past, but he struggled this past season, as he was inconsistent as a shooter and scorer on a very bad Rockets’ team.  He also didn’t quite defend as well as he’s capable of.  House provided marginal floor spacing skills along with decent rebounding and playmaking skills this year, but his performance was a bit underwhelming overall.

2021 Season Grade: C-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Bench player on the Houston Rockets
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

After having a turbulent tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Porter Jr. played well for the Houston Rockets, and he’s looking to be a good pickup for them, as he scored 50 points late in the regular season this year.
(Photo:
Troy Taormina/Pool Photo via AP, via Rockets Wire – USA Today)

G-F Kevin Porter Jr.
2021 (HOU): 26 GP, 16.6 PPG, 6.3 APG, 3.8 RPG, 43 FG%, 31 3PT%, 73 FT%, 12.5 PER, 53 TS%, 0 WS, .000 WS48

Talk about a season of ups and downs, and that is precisely how you could describe how the year went for Kevin Porter Jr.  He had a major locker room blowup and meltdown that later resulted in him being swiftly traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Houston Rockets for a 2024, protected top-55 second round pick, and there is a good likelihood that pick will not actually be conceived due to the heavy protections and that there only 60 draft spots in any given year.  So essentially, Porter was basically given away to Houston for free, and the Rockets capitalized on acquiring a talented, young player that Cleveland was all too happy to rid get of.

Porter played well both in the NBA G-League for Rio Grande Valley, and in the NBA for Houston.  Porter scored 50 points in the NBA this year, and he showed his scoring and playmaking skills, and he averaged over 16 points and 6 assists per game in the NBA this year.  He struggled with his jump shot and was more of a volume scorer than an efficient one, and he also rated as at best a middling defender this year.  Still, that Porter has shown that he can score and facilitate at this level and looks to maybe be even better suggests that Houston might have a solid player to work with, especially if Porter doesn’t run into behavioral issues in the future.

2021 Season Grade: C+ (Incomplete w/CLE, C+ w/HOU)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starter, or solid bench player on the Houston Rockets
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (3 star potential)

Houston Rockets’ rookie swingman, Kenyon Martin Jr. quietly had a very good rookie season, and he played far better than anticipated, as he placed on the leaderboards in various statistics amongst rookies this year.
(Photo:
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images, via SB Nation’s The Dream Shake)

G-F Kenyon Martin Jr.
2021 (HOU): 45 GP, 9.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.9 BPG, 51 FG%, 36 3PT%, 71 FT%, 14.6 PER, 59 TS%, 2.2 WS, .099 WS48

He’s a very athletic swingman that had a good rookie season, and his impressive performance, especially for a rookie that was drafted in the late second round definitely surpassed expectations.  Martin excelled as a shooter and scorer, he was terrific on the boards, and he also did a very good job of blocking shots this season.  He will still need to improve his playmaking skills and on-ball defense, but it’s clear that Martin has a very bright future, and the Rockets definitely should be glad that they had the foresight to acquire him in the 2020 draft.

2021 Season Grade: A
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Houston Rockets
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

Note: His next three seasons are non-guaranteed, but Martin is expected to stay with the Rockets.

G Eric Gordon
2021 (HOU): 27 GP, 17.8 PPG, 2.6 APG, 2.1 RPG, 43 FG%, 33 3PT%, 82 FT%, 14.4 PER, 58 TS%, 0.8 WS, .048 WS48

Gordon provided scoring for the Rockets, but he missed a lot of time due to a groin injury.  He was significantly more efficient as a scorer this year, but he didn’t make threes at a high rate, and he also did not rebound nor defended well this season.  Next season, he’s expected to play a similar role as a scorer off the bench for the Rockets.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Houston Rockets
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

G D.J. Augustin
2021 (MIL/HOU): 57 GP, 7.7 PPG, 3.3 APG, 1.6 RPG, 39 FG%, 38 3PT%, 90 FT%, 12.1 PER, 57 TS%, 2.9 WS, .098 WS48

D.J. Augustin is a solid, veteran backup point guard that has proven to be able to shoot, pass, and reliably run the team with the ball in his hands.  He’s not an explosive athlete nor a great defender, but he’s a steady backup point guard that has shown he can provide solid minutes for an NBA team on a consistent basis.  He’s a consistently above average NBA backup point guard, and he can bring wisdom and a veteran presence to show the young players the ropes.

2021 Season Grade: B (C with Milwaukee, A- with Houston)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

G-F Sterling Brown
2021 (HOU): 51 GP, 8.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.4 APG, 45 FG%, 42 3PT%, 81 FT%, 11.1 PER, 60 TS%, 1.8 WS, .071 WS48

Sterling Brown had an unfortunate altercation after leaving a nightclub in Miami, and he definitely has teammate, Kevin Porter Jr. for being there to save him to prevent him from ending up with a worse fate.

From a basketball perspective, Brown arguably enjoyed his finest individual season, as he excelled as a shooter, scorer, and rebounder for his team, and he was solid in his role as a 3 and D player for Houston this year.  His team wasn’t very good, but Brown played solid basketball this year when he was on the court.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Note: Will be an impending UFA at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G-F David Nwaba
2021 (HOU): 30 GP, 9.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 49 FG%, 27 3PT%, 69 FT%, 14.4 PER, 56 TS%, 1.3 WS, .094 WS48

Despite his inability to shoot the basketball, Nwaba played fairly well for the Rockets this season.  He excelled as an inside scorer, rebounder, and defender, and he is an energetic defensive specialist that can provide some solid minutes when he is on the court.  His lack of shooting range may prevent him from being a starter or from reaching stardom in this league, but Nwaba is a serviceable role player that can make solid hustle plays on both ends of the floor.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Backend roster player, possible backend of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Note: Will be an impending UFA at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G Khyri Thomas
2021 (HOU): 5 GP, 16.4 PPG, 5.0 APG, 3.6 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 48 FG%, 33 3PT%, 100 FT%, 21.3 PER, 59 TS%, 0.5 WS, .164 WS48
2021 (G-League): 7 GP, 13.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 49 FG%. 46 3PT%, 100 FT%, 22.7 PER, 60 TS%, 0.3 WS, .118 WS48

Things were looking down for Thomas’ NBA career prior to the start of this season.  He was traded away by Detroit, and was waived by Atlanta two days later.  He signed an exhibit 10 with the Spurs, but that was really just so they could allocate him to their G-League team.

Once he played for the Austin Toros in the G-League this year, it changed Thomas’ career path for the better.  He played very well in the NBA G-League this year, and he earned a call-up back to the NBA for the Houston Rockets.  He played extremely well late in the season for his new team, and Thomas is a talented player that could carry that positive momentum to possibly become a full-time rotation player for Houston next season.

2021 Season Grade: A
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Backend roster player, possible backend of the rotation player in the NBA (or very good starter in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Note: His next three seasons are non-guaranteed, but Thomas is expected to stay with the Rockets.

G Armoni Brooks (Two-Way Player)
2021 (HOU): 20 GP, 11.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.5 APG, 41 FG%, 38 3PT%, 58 FT%, 10.4 PER, 57 TS%, 0.3 WS, .030 WS48
2021 (G-League): 15 GP, 16.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 43 FG%, 38 3PT%, 94 FT%, 17.8 PER, 61 TS%, 1.4 WS, .144 WS48

Brooks is a skilled combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball, and he showed that he can capably score at the NBA level.  He also managed to hold down a two-way player spot to end this season, so it’s clear he’s definitely made a favorable impression on the coaching staff.  That bodes well for his future, and he projects to stay on their team as a microwave type of scorer off the bench for the Rockets.

2021 Season Grade: B-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Bench player for the Houston Rockets
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars)

G Avery Bradley
2021 (MIA/HOU): 27 GP, 6.4 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.7 APG, 37 FG%, 33 3PT%, 80 FT%, 6.3 PER, 49 TS%, -0.1 WS, -.008 WS48

Avery Bradley had an up and down season, as he played well for Miami, but he really struggled on a very bad Houston Rockets’ team this year.  Bradley is an aggressive, 3 and D role player whose skill set works on a playoff team, but his lack of shot creation ability and playmaking skills makes him a very limited player on a bad to mediocre NBA team.

2021 Season Grade: D+ (B- with Miami, F with Houston)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Backend roster player, possible backend of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

Note: Has a team option that may or may not be picked up at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season, but my guess is that it would be unlikely that the Rockets would pick up his option.

G-F Dante Exum
2021 (CLE): 6 GP, 3.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.5 RPG, 38 FG%, 18 3PT%, 50 FT%, 5.9 PER, 43 TS%, -0.1 WS, -.025 WS48

He played a rather forgettable six games for the Cleveland Cavaliers, as he did not shoot the ball very well at all, and he shot the ball horrendously for them this year, but he did show some rebounding, playmaking, and defensive skills when he played for them.

Exum then went down to a season-ending calf injury, and he was promptly traded to Houston.  He’s a talented, but oft-injured combo guard who has not played 1000 minutes in a full season since the 2016-17 NBA season, his second year that he played in the league. 

2021 Season Grade: D- (D- with Cleveland, I with Houston)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

Note: Will be an impending UFA at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

F Anthony Lamb (Two-Way Player)
2021 (HOU): 24 GP, 5.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.0 APG, 39 FG%, 32 3PT%, 86 FT%, 8.7 PER, 52 TS%, 0.2 WS, .023 WS48
2021 (G-League): 12 GP, 11.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 52 FG%, 38 3PT%, 64 FT%, 23.2 PER, 65 TS%, 1.0 WS, .182 WS48

Lamb’s play in the G-League must have really impressed the coaches, as they essentially waived Mason Jones to clear a two-way player spot for him.  His regular season performance in the NBA was considerably less impressive though, as he didn’t quite shoot nor defend well at that level.

Judging from his track record, he likely projects into a 3 and D role in the NBA, and the Rockets are investing in his future to try to ensure that happens for him.  The worst case scenario is that if he doesn’t quite pan out in the NBA, he can always play for their G-League team, and play very well if he does have to make a repeat trip back there.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Backend roster player, possible backend of the rotation player in the NBA (or very good starter in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars)

F-C D.J. Wilson
2021 (MIL/HOU): 35 GP, 5.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 40 FG%, 34 3PT%, 68 FT%, 11.5 PER, 51 TS%, 0.3 WS, .032 WS48

D.J. Wilson is an athletic, skilled big man that has stretch big potential, but he’s been an inconsistent shooter for years in the NBA, he hasn’t really been a great rebounder nor defender at this level, and the Bucks’ patient finally wore out on him, as he was basically a throw-in a trade to net the Bucks P.J. Tucker.

Wilson when he’s on his game can make some threes and space the floor, but he’s been too inconsistent, and he’s never really made much of an impression in this league.  As a result, time may be running out on the idea of him being a full-time rotation player in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: D
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player in the NBA (or starter in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1 star (2 star potential)

Note: Will be an impending RFA at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

Other Players:

F Cameron Oliver
2021 (HOU): 4 GP, 10.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.0 BPG, 58 FG%, 31 3PT%, 17.2 PER, 62 TS%, 0.2 WS, .114 WS48

The Houston Rockets essentially borrowed Cameron Oliver from the Cairns Taipans of the NBL, as they signed him to a 10-day contract to end the regular season.  Oliver played really well in his 4 games with the Rockets, so much so that they could consider keeping him if Oliver and the Rockets are open to stay committed to each other for next season.

Oliver did a very good job of knocking down shots and rebounding the basketball, and he provided solid minutes in his very short tenure with the Rockets.  No one is going to blame Rockets’ fans if they don’t recall Oliver playing for them, but if Oliver wants to play another year in the NBA, he definitely would be worth a definite shot for a roster spot next season.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Backend roster player, possible backend of the rotation player in the NBA (or very good starter in the NBL)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Surprise Cuts:
G-F Mason Jones
2021 (HOU/PHI): 32 GP, 5.3 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, 42 FG%, 36 3PT%, 63 FT%, 12.1 PER, 56 TS%, 0.2 WS, .028 WS48

Mason Jones was consistently productive as a floor spacer and scorer for Houston, and he started off really well for them. He appeared to be a solidly productive rookie in the NBA with them, so it was all the more surprising when he was let go the first time around by them. 

I was certain he had more trade value around the league, but he apparently does not.  He ended up signing two more times, and Jones was waived two more times, by Houston and Philadelphia when it was all said and done.

On the surface, Jones is a flat-out scorer that can get buckets, and he can easily come off the bench to put up numbers, and there is no doubt that he would have played extremely well in the NBA G-League if Houston had sent him down to Rio Grande Valley this year.

On the other, it seems that concerns about Jones’ game may be more significant than expected.  It appears that Mason Jones may be sort of a ball-stopper on offense, and that he’s not a particularly good defender in the NBA.  Pretty much all of his defensive metrics are bad.  He doesn’t ever get steals or blocks, and most of his advanced defensive metrics don’t rate him that well, either.  For coaches that wish to slot him into a 3 and D role, the lack of defense on his end may be concerning.

Jones is quite a talented player, and there’s no doubt that he definitely can score at the NBA level.  The concern though is that he may slow down his own offenses by looking to score too much rather than play the team system, as that may make him incompatible to play with superstars, and his suspect defense might make NBA coaches disinclined to play him if they have him on their roster.  At the end of the day, he’s still an undrafted young player that does not have much NBA experience, and so it may be best for him to tailor his game to fit into an NBA team better than how he does right now.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible backend rotation player in the NBA (or solid starter in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2.5 stars potential)

No Longer with the Team:

F-C Justin Patton
2021 (HOU): 13 GP, 5.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 1.1 APG, 41 FG%, 26 3PT%, 75 FT%, 11.6 PER, 49 TS%, 0.4 WS, .076 WS48
2021 (G-League): 4 GP, 10.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.8 BPG, 1.5 SPG, 50 FG%, 24.7 PER, 60 TS%, 0.3 WS, .168 WS48

Patton is an athletic, energetic big man that played well in the NBA G-League, but he has been unable to transfer his G-League success to the NBA.  He’s often was injury prone in his early NBA years, which stunted his growth, but he also hasn’t played well in his limited time on the court in this league.

He’s struggled to shoot efficiently or to rebound the basketball, and while he’s finally shown that he can be a legitimate shot blocking threat in the NBA, Patton just didn’t seem to make enough of an impact to show that he should get consistent minutes or playing time at this level.  It’s a shame, because he has the talent to be a rotation player, but he has yet to show the drive or the production to be a player worth playing in the association.

2021 Season Grade: D
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player in the NBA (or solid starter in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 star potential)

F Bruno Caboclo
2021 (HOU): 2.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 47 FG%, 0 3PT%, 50 FT%, 9 PER, 48 TS%, -0.1 WAR, -.088 WS48
2021 (French Lg): 9 GP, 13.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 52 FG%, 45 3PT%, 74 FT%, 20.9 PER, 65 TS%, 0.7 WS, .155 WS48

Bruno Caboclo is a very athletic combo forward that has an enormous wingspan, but he’s routinely been disappointing in short stints in the NBA, although some of it is also because there hasn’t been much playing time to go around for him. 

He’s had one fairly solid NBA season with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2018-19 in his seven years in the NBA, and Caboclo has been given many chances, but it seems that NBA teams just tend to run out of patience with him.  He grabbed rebounds for Houston, but he didn’t shoot or defend well in limited minutes, and the Rockets just cut him early this season.

2021 Season Grade: D-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player in the NBA (or starter in either the G-League or overseas)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

Houston Rockets’ rookie head coach, Stephen Silas was not given much to cheer for this season, as his team traded disgruntled superstar James Harden after he played just 8 games for them this year. The 2021 Houston Rockets were 2-6 when Harden played for them, and they were just 15-49 in all of the other games this past season.
(Photo:
Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports)

Head Coach:
Stephen Silas
2021 (HOU): 17-55, 0-0 in the playoffs
Career: 17-55, 0-0 in his playoff career

When the Rockets had traded James Harden away, it was expected that suddenly they would become a very bad team, and they were, because Harden had produced so much for the Rockets’ franchise in the past, and Silas was dealt a pretty rough hand in his first year as their head coach.

There weren’t many wins for this team to get, so from a team perspective, that can be punted on whether or not if Silas should be evaluated much from that standpoint.  Therefore, Silas is still unproven as a head coach in the NBA.  On the other hand, he did a good job of developing young players such as Kenyon Martin Jr., Jae’Sean Tate, and Kevin Porter Jr., and he’s positioning his team to be better set in the long run.  The jury is out on whether or not if he can be an effective head coach in this league, but time will tell if he can in a couple of years.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Head Coach of the Houston Rockets
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (3 stars potential)

A Brief Summary of the 2020-21 Houston Rockets’ Season:

After they traded James Harden, this was really a lost season for the Houston Rockets, so they spent time trying to acquire draft picks that they had traded away, as well as to develop the young players they had or acquired on their roster.

They still have a long way to go, but led by center Christian Wood, and as they have the 2nd overall pick in the 2021 draft, they could slowly position themselves to be incrementally better than they were when they had traded Harden away.

The 2020-21 Houston Rockets’ Season Grade: D+

The Houston Rockets’ Projected 2021-22 NBA Rotation:

Projected Starters:
C Christian Wood
F Jae’Sean Tate
G Kevin Porter Jr.
2nd Overall Pick of the 2021 NBA Draft
G John Wall

Key Reserves:
F Kenyon Martin Jr.
F Danuel House
G Eric Gordon
G D.J. Augustin

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
The 23rd overall draft pick of the 2021 NBA Draft
The 24th overall draft pick of the 2021 NBA Draft
G Khyri Thomas
G Armoni Brooks (Two-Way)

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
F Anthony Lamb (Two-Way)

Impending Restricted Free Agents (RFAs):
D.J. Wilson – Not Expected Back

Impending Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs):
Kelly Olynyk – Not Expected Back
Sterling Brown – Not Expected Back
David Nwaba – Not Expected Back
Dante Exum – Not Expected Back

Players with an Impending Team Option:
Avery Bradley – Not Expected Back

Projected Offseason Plan for the Rockets:
Since they are way over the cap, the Houston Rockets don’t have a whole lot of money to spend.  Their best bet is to go through the draft and draft the best players.  Christian Wood is a solid piece, but the Rockets don’t have an elite player on their roster, and they need as much talent as they can get.

Their best bet in the offseason is to build through the draft, and to draft wisely. If the Rockets do manage to get some cap space, they could use that to add some skill and size at the power forward position, and they will need to add some talent and depth at the point guard position and out on the wings.

The 2022 Houston Rockets’ Expected Win-Loss Record:
24-58, 15th in the Western Conference, worst team in the league in 2022.

Expected 2022 Season Outcome: The 2022 Houston Rockets could be among the worst teams in the NBA.

I primarily went to Basketball-Reference, RealGM, and No Trade Clause for research purposes in this article. The 2021 NBA Finals will start on Tuesday, July 6th, so that will be very a exciting basketball day. Thanks for reading.

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