2 biggest Houston Rockets overreactions from 2022 NBA Summer League
The Orlando Magic shocked everyone by picking Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft. This ended up opening the doors for the Houston Rockets to take Jabari Smith Jr., once projected the first pick, with the No. 3 pick. So far, fans are saying the Magic made the right decision.
Following some Summer League games in Las Vegas, the Houston Rockets’ rookies have been surprising the basketball world, for better or for worse. But do these summer games actually mean something for their future season?
Here are two overreactions from Rockets fans after three games in Summer League play.
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Biggest Houston Rockets Summer League Overreactions
Jabari Smith Jr. and his early struggles
For his first two games in this Summer League, Jabari Smith Jr. shot a worrying 9-for-29 from the field and fans started to wonder if the Magic saw something they all missed about the rookie out of Auburn.
Despite the subpar two matchups, the rookie bounced back in the third game when he scored 19 points, shooting 6-for-12 from the field and 3-for-5 from behind the arc. He also added nine rebounds, two steals, and a block, showing his defensive potential that has been talked about since the early draft process. He is averaging 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks in the Summer League. Against the Oklahoma City Thunder and No. 2 pick Chet Holmgren, Smith had four steals and three blocks.
The forward should not be too harshly scrutinized for his first two performances as a Rocket, nor should he be overly praised for his outing in his third appearance. Even if he struggles offensively in his first couple of games in the NBA, the Rockets have Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., and Josh Christopher who are capable of finding their shot. Smith can then focus on his defensive game and only take smart shots, while continuing to work to develop his mechanics and off-the-dribble attack.
He might not look like a star right away, but the potential is there. At the end of the day, most people don’t remember what the great NBA stars did in their first Summer League showings.
Tari Eason is the steal of the 2022 NBA Draft
If the Rockets fans have been a bit skeptical about the No. 1 pick, the same cannot be said about No. 17 overall pick Tari Eason. NBC Sports said the rookie out of LSU is potentially the best player in this Houston Summer League setup.
Eason is averaging 16.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in those three games, in addition to 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks.
Tari Eason went to WORK in Game 3 of #NBASummer!
Watch the rookie get his double-double ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/j6wAAuIClR
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) July 12, 2022
Some are saying Eason could be the steal of the draft and, although the praise for his performance this month is well deserved, it is still early to say what his role is going to be this season. The team already has young big men in Usman Garuba, Alperen Şengün, and Kenyon Martin Jr., as well as Jae’Sean Tate, who was just re-signed this offseason.
Eason will have to battle with all of those players to earn some minutes in the crowded Houston frontcourt. Should he develop a more reliable 3-point shot (32.7% in college and 33.3% in Summer League), he can climb the rankings and get into the rotation earlier than the other young pieces.
Overall, both rookies are showing promise and Rocket fans should be excited about the future in the post-James Harden era.