After years of contention, the Rockets traded away their biggest star, James Harden.
It was clear that Harden did not see a path to a championship in Houston, so the organization had to do something. Rockets fans were not happy, but it was done to make sure they extract some value for the future. While it did not work out fully, the Rockets are still in for a great future ahead.
Teams going through a rebuild can have difficult moments and the overall success of the Rockets franchise will not make that easy for their fans. Overall, in 55 seasons, the Rockets made the postseason 34 times, which is impressive.
Of course, they did not always have championship-ready teams that contended, but it is still a feat worth mentioning. Now, they enter a period where they will not make the playoffs for at least two years in a row. Rockets fans know this.
Regardless, here are three reasons why the Rockets' future should actively excite their fans!
Rockets future potential
Jalen Green, the hope of Rockets fans
The first one is pretty obvious to anyone who has seen this player in the G-League last season. Playing for the Ignite, Green was the galvanizer of the team. His energetic performances, capped with great athletic feats, were the talk of the analysts before the draft. Green was even in some contention to be the first selection but was ultimately selected second. The Rockets should be very happy he was not selected first, since missing out on him might hurt the team that selected first.
Green is an athletic monster and a great scorer, with good defensive potential. He is six-foot-six and plays primarily as a shooting guard. The one distinct advantage he has is that he played versus NBA-level guys already. While his fellow prospects taken in the 2021 NBA Draft were playing against college players, Green was the starting guard for the G-League Ignite. Ignite is an alternative to college basketball, where the young players can experience some form of professional basketball, rather than the amateur one played in the NCAA.
Green played with the likes of Jarrett Jack, Amir Johnson, and Bobby Brown. He also played against NBA-level opposition. Of course, the guard did not play against All-Star opposition, but it was still professional guys who had some experience in the league. Playing with veterans provided Green with valuable experience and he does not enter the league as someone who will need major adjustment. He is ready to help instantly and Rockets fans will surely love him. He is a pleasing player to watch in terms of theatrics and if for no other reason than that, neutrals should be watching the Rockets because of him. He has all the potential in the world to become a future All-Star.
Young, hungry guys
There is a plethora of evidence that these kinds of teams breathe life into some forgotten players. The Rockets have, on their roster, some exciting guys that might be huge for their future. Kevin Porter Jr, for all his off-court struggles, is someone who the Rockets faithful put a lot of trust in. He has all the potential in the world and if he can put his Cavaliers stint behind him, he will be the motor of this Rockets group for the foreseeable future.
Dante Exum is also there. The Australian point guard did not have the best NBA career until now. Injuries, bad fit on teams, and overall inability to assert himself on an NBA roster stopped him from fulfilling his potential. However, the Rockets have all the time in the world to give him the space to develop. His game is predicated on defense and his playmaking ability, and the Rockets have the perfect roster for that. Exum can play a role similar to Ricky Rubio, while the scoring will be done by Porter, Green, and Christian Wood.
Speaking of Wood, he is also on the roster, and Rockets fans should be incredibly happy. After his stint in Detroit, which earned him the contract he has, he was partly doubted but he balled out in Houston. He increased his averages, assumed responsibility, and made sure that he develops further in a poor Rockets team from last year. He should be the first star of the team and one of the biggest contributors for the future, other than Porter and Green.
Winning history and mentality
As said in the beginning, the Rockets are not a team that accepts losing, historically speaking. In their 55 year history, only 21 of their played seasons ended in the regular part. Out of those 21, they failed to go above .500 only 15 times. Out of those 15 times, nine came in their first eleven seasons, which is when the team generally struggles. What is even more impressive, the Rockets are in Houston and do not have the reputation like the Lakers or the Celtics, meaning that they cannot attract huge free agents.
It is really a testament to their organization, front offices that led them, and the development of their talent. Biggest Rockets stars, like Hakeem Olajuwon, Ralph Sampson, and Rudy Tomjanovich, to name a few, were guys drafted by the team. Of course, there were guys like Harden or Tracy McGrady that were brought in. However, even that was the work of their great executives who were able to seek smart trades and free-agent deals to enhance the team.
Due to all of these reasons, while the present is bleak, Rockets fans should look to the future. They have great, young guys, a winning mentality, and a possible All-NBA player in Green. The fans should come out in big numbers, support the team through these rough times, and the playoffs will soon be a regular occurrence in Houston again.