Rockets

Christopher Can Be Two-Way Great

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The Houston Rockets have done a tremendous job in transitioning their identity.

With two soon-to-be elite guards in Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green, the Rockets have found another who can become a significant part of the guard/wing rotation.

That player is Josh Christopher.

It’s not always common to discover players who can get after it on both ends of the floor. After the conclusion of Summer League, the Arizona State product and 24th overall pick in the draft has the potential for success.

Defense

Christopher was critiqued for his mental lapses, often making questionable decisions. Coaches hate senseless reaching, laziness and lack of effort defensively. Allowing easy buckets simply makes it too difficult to stay in games when trading buckets. Throughout Summer League, his defensive potential was apparent. He plays with a relentless motor– not succumbing to any challenge in his path.

His biggest defensive play was on number one overall pick, Cade Cunningham.

Although that was only one play, he played with energy every time he was on the floor. According to Christopher, “Rafael Stone told him to “come be our Jrue Holiday.”

That’s the ultimate compliment to be viewed in any light of Holiday, especially as a defender.

Jrue Holiday

Holiday is regarded by many as the best perimeter defender in the league. He can perform at an elite level without committing too many fouls. He’s able to slide his feet and have active hands to stay in front of his opponents.

The 31-year-old didn’t get enough recognition and respect until he was acquired by the Bucks. He contributed tremendously on both ends to help lead Milwaukee to a championship.

He also showcased this in the Tokyo Olympics to help lead Team USA to a gold medal.

Holiday has done an outstanding job establishing his reputation. He possesses selections to the All-Defensive First Team twice (2018, 2021) and All-Defensive Second Team once (2019).

Christopher seems ready for the challenge Houston has set for him. Don’t get it twisted– Holiday is no slouch offensively, but defense is where he makes his mark. Defense is where Christopher can make his mark and none better than the blueprint.

Offense

Through five Summer League games, Christopher averaged 16.8 points (38.5% FG, 18.2% 3PT, 78.3% FT), 4.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. Solid numbers, but he needs to make better decisions with the ball, as he committed 2.8 turnovers per contest. We can expect his 3PT% to improve through development, which will be needed to keep the defense honest.

Christopher possesses the athleticism, balance and strength to finish in the paint and bounce off defenders for high-quality shots. His alley-oop dunk against the Pistons showcased his explosiveness.

He doesn’t need to become a great three-point shooter, but improving his shot selection and using his 6’5” 215lb frame to finish at the rim, and knocking down midrange shots at a high percentage, are essential. This sounds like a current NBA player, DeMar DeRozan.

DeMar DeRozan

DeRozan came into this league as a very athletic slasher, who wasn’t an adept shooter (16.7% from three in college). Although he’s a below-average three-point shooter in the NBA (28.1% for career), he’s carved out a nice career as one of the best midrange shooters and finishers in the game.

He must’ve learned “less is more” approach from Kobe Bryant, coming from the famous Bruce Lee quote: “the less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.” DeRozan picks his spots without thinking or dribbling too much. In fact, his two-point percentage for his career is the same as Bryant’s was– 47.9%.

Passing is another area where DeRozan grew once acquired by the Spurs. This past season, he averaged a career-high 6.9 assists per game. He averaged 2.0 turnovers on the year versus Christopher’s 3.3 he averaged in Summer League.

DeRozan shows poise and patience before making a decision– taking what the defense gives him. It’s important to wait and see what gaps are open to determine the direction one will take. Being able to read the defense a play in advance gives one the opportunity to know where his teammates are to make that extra pass if the defender helps off.

This would open up Christopher’s offensive game enormously, posing as a dual threat.

Become Jrue DeRozan/DeMar Holiday

Picking out the strengths of both of these players creates an elite one. Thinking of the combination of lockdown defenders and midrange maestros, you think of Michael Jordan and Kawhi Leonard.

Not to say Christopher’s ceiling is this high, but he can develop a reputation of a respectable player. The best players take positive attributes of others and apply it to their own. Adding another physical wing to the soon-to-be star duo Porter Jr. and Green is exciting to fathom.

Who knows– Josh Christopher could be yet another steal for Houston.

Follow us on Twitter @RocketsLead for the latest Rockets news and insight. 

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About Corey Randall

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