Going into Wednesday night's game against the Charlotte Hornets, the Rockets had lost 11 straight and were 5-20 in their last 25. They added another game to the loss column with a 122-117 defeat.
Let's just say it's been a rough start to 2023...and end to 2022...for the very young Houston Rockets. We opined in this space last week that the sun might be setting on Coach Stephen Silas and his time steering what appears to be a fairly rudderless ship, but even that won't change the fact that very young teams are often pretty bad. In the case of the Rockets, they are really
But, you don't want the comments of former players to add insult to injury. Enter John Wall...
John Wall called his time with the Rockets "trash."
Well, you knew things were pretty ugly, but then you add in these comments on a podcast by Wall on Tuesday and, it just sucks to be a Rockets fan. Wall complained that the team was purposefully tanking and wanted him to accept a role only occasionally playing, which he refused. Wall is currently averaging 11 points and 5 assists coming off the bench for the disappointing Clippers.
Silas, in response, said that the team was young and "would be fine." No one wants to see piling on happen, particularly with a truly, incredibly young core of players, but this is what happens when franchises go through down periods. No one likes them. No one wants to be with them. They turn into, well, trash. The goal is to find a way to turn that trash into treasure, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Alperen Sengun is the Rockets' best player right now.
The Turkish big man is averaging nearly 15 points and just under 9 rebounds per game. He blew up against the Lakers with 33 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 blocks. He became the youngest Rocket ever to go 30/10 and the youngest NBA player ever to go 30/15/5. He has also become a guy who can lead with the ball in his hands. Some have suggested that Sengun has some Nikola Jokic in his game and could play from the high post like the perennial Denver center. The Rockets have been doing more of that lately and Sengun is flourishing.
This is still a team that is too one-on-one to fully get behind a Sengun-led offense, but the building blocks are there. It's remarkable for a guy who is barely 20 and doesn't have the athleticism or explosiveness of some of his teammates. But, his basketball IQ is off the charts and his individual skillset, particularly with his footwork in the post, is incredibly impressive.
James Harden a Rocket again?
This may sound like a completely bizarre rumor, but it should be addressed nevertheless. Reports around the league are that Harden may want to reunite with his former team when he becomes a free agent in the offseason and the team may be amenable. Harden, who is averaging 21 points and 11 assists in Philadelphia, just has not be the same since he was traded from Houston to the Nets.
There has been speculation he could provide the voice of experience for young players, give the team a needed scoring boost, and perhaps mentor Kevin Porter, Jr. in the team's attempts to convert him into a point guard they way they did with Harden under coach Mike D'Antoni.
It would undoubtedly be a weird reunion and one that would seem to fly in the face of the very rebuilding the team has so readily embraced. But, who knows?
What realistically should be our expectations? Jeff Balke covers the Astros and Rockets weekly for the Houston Press and co-hosts the Bleav in Astros podcast with former third baseman and current Astros broadcaster Geoff Blum. Follow him on Twitter.