Rockets Ready to Commence Liftoff


There’s so much to be excited about with the new-look Houston Rockets.

The copiously talented players are looking to become one of the best teams in the near future. The Las Vegas Summer League ended on a great note with a comeback victory over the Blazers, resurrecting the “Clutch City” moniker for the franchise.

From Summer League, we can take the team’s temperature heading into training camp.

Garuba Going to be a Defensive Machine

Usman Garuba holds the ACB Best Young Player and EuroLeague Rising Star awards for a reason.

This is given to the best player under the age of 22. He was drafted to be defensive stopper, combining a unique level of athleticism, length and instincts at the young age of 19 years old. He missed the first two games of Summer League, but competed in the last three. In the fifth game, we were all able to see truly what he’s capable of, as he recorded eight points, 10 rebounds, six assists, five steals and a block. He was all over the place contributing in a multitude of ways.

The block on Antonio Blakeney’s dunk attempt was part of Houston’s 12-2 run with seconds remaining in this wild comeback victory. This sent the fans into a frenzy.

Garuba has the chance to become that defensive anchor the team needs and he’s only going to improve from here.

Armoni Brooks Deserves a Roster Spot

Brooks missed the first three games of Summer League due to the league’s health and safety protocols. In his first game, he recorded just five points (2/8 FG, 0/4 3PT).

Things would change for him in the finale, however. With no Jalen Green, K.J. Martin, Alperen Sengun or Khyri Thomas, Brooks took matters into his own hands and became the go-to guy in Game 5, notching in 30 points (10/19 FG, 9/17 3PT, 1/1 FT).

The free throw was from a technical on Portland’s end from calling a timeout with none left. He proceeded to hit the game-winning three, giving Houston a three-point lead with 30.1 seconds remaining.

Mind you, the rest of the team shot 5/32 from three…yikes!

Brooks arrived in Houston with a two-way contract last season, and proved he belongs. In 20 games, he averaged 11.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists and shot 38.2% from three on an absurd 7.9 attempts per game. He came into his own the last seven games in which he posted 18.4 points per game shooting 47.9% overall and 44.0% from three. He even broke two records:

  • Most three-pointers made (46) by a rookie in their first 17 games EVER, surpassing Damian Lillard’s record of 43.
  • Most three-pointers made (60) over the first 20 games of any NBA player’s career.

This Summer League performance was just a little reminder of not only how he finished last season, but not to forget about him. That type of play and shooting deserves a contract and a spot in the rotation.

KPJ & Green Grasp Massive Potential

After witnessing great guard play of James Harden, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, it’s exciting to see a change with some talented youth that have chips on their shoulders, like it was from Lays (lyric from Blair Anthony’s Ignore me).

Furthermore, KPJ was drafted 30th in the first round of the 2019 draft and was sent here for peanuts (future second-round pick). Green believes he’s the best player from the 2021 Draft, thus is on a mission to prove so. The explosiveness, skill, size, ability and balance to gain separation offensively is extremely rare.

Moreover, let’s observe the beauty of both player’s game.

Kevin Porter Jr.

This is the soon-to-be star point guard we’re talking scoring 50 points on the best perimeter defender in the league in Jrue Holiday.

And we can’t forget, he’s also the youngest player in NBA history to record a 50+ point, 10+ assist game. Sheesh!

Jalen Green

And here we have the soon-to-be star shooting guard. He did come out in this game with vengeance against the Pistons only attempting 11 shots and attempting 11 free throws. At some point, he could average 30 points per game and possibly lead the league in scoring. He’s that good.

He even gave the first overall pick a staredown after a made three over him.

KPJ turning 21 this past May and Green not turning 20 until February has me in awe. These guys are nowhere near their prime and have so much potential waiting to be unlocked. It’s almost like a cocoon waiting to hatch so the butterfly can make its presence. This backcourt duo gives me the chills and it’s going to be a scary site.

What’s not to love about the transition Rafael Stone and management have made in their second offseason together? Scouting young, top-tier talent is progressing forward to the future, not for a complete rebuild, but for a temporary one with obtaining the best assets.

All in all, the ceiling is through the roof with this core group of guys. After the rest of the roster is integrated at training camp, it’s only optimism from here and Houston should be ready for liftoff.

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

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About Corey Randall

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