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Houston Rockets: 4 bold predictions for the 2021-22 NBA season

Rockets, Jalen Green, Christian Wood, Alperen Sengun, Kevin Porter Jr., John Wall, Eric Gordon

Just two years ago, the Houston Rockets reached the Western Conference Semifinals, but their performance has taken a drastic hit over the last two years. They were the worst team in the NBA last year. Fortunately, they received the second overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and used it by selecting athletic wing Jalen Green.

Kevin Porter Jr. and Jae’Sean Tate had a fabulous run to conclude last season, while Christian Wood is a huge piece with a ton of expectations because of his well-rounded offensive repertoire. Injuries have continued to hinder his progress and development as an NBA player, but Wood is now rejuvenated to prove himself once again. There are no postseason expectations for the Rockets entering the season, but here are four bold predictions.

John Wall and Eric Gordon won’t be traded

With the youthful composition of the Rockets, casual NBA fans may feel that they have a ton of cap space to acquire numerous free agents. However, the team still has the disastrous $91 million it owes to John Wall for the next two seasons. His contract for next season has a player option, but there is no doubt that he is opting into that to receive enormous money.

The mutual agreement of Wall and the Rockets to sit out until he’s traded is ironic because the team will continue paying him despite playing zero seconds on the court. Additionally, the Rockets have been stuck with the long-term contract of Gordon for numerous years already. He has underperformed as well due to the plethora of injuries he has incurred.

With the contracts and performance of these two guys, it will be tough to trade them and attract value for more veteran presence.

Jalen Green wins Rookie of the Year

Cade Cunningham was the consensus number one overall pick for most general managers, but Green has the game that is more NBA-ready because he had the advantage of playing one season in the NBA G-League for Team Ignite. He will not have that new feeling of playing against professionals, and he has an orchestrator in KPJ who will create many opportunities for him.

Green has otherworldly athleticism and vertical abilities which were proven in the NBA Summer League and their preseason games. He will have bumps on the road, such as inefficiency on his outside shooting or turnovers, but these will not be a cause of concern for the future of the talented shooting guard.

Alperen Sengun is the steal of the draft

Sengun was drafted as the 16th overall pick as the Rockets executed a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder to have the opportunity of selecting the unheralded big man. He will not start in the Rockets frontcourt already composed of Wood, Tate, and Daniel Theis, but it will just be a matter of time when Sengun claims the starting center role. Even with limited minutes in their preseason games, he is a big man that has a multitude of skills.

Even with his raw talent at the NBA level, he has the potential to have an evolution similar to Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic. He has the footwork and playmaking abilities for a towering pivot. Moreover, he can be mentored by Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon in continuing to expand his skillset and flourish for the new-look franchise. With the formation of the team, Sengun will not lack opportunities to shock NBA fans.

Christian Wood will be in All-Star conversations

Wood will have that mentality and focus of wanting to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2020-21 season. He signed a $41 million, three-year deal with the Rockets in the previous summer as they expect him to be the top big man of the squad. He started the season on an excellent note as a rim-running big man in transition and pick-and-rolls while also being an effective threat in the pick-and-pop schemes of coach Stephen Silas.

The Rockets will keep pushing the pace this season based on the composition of their roster, which opens up the chances of Wood to tally a well-rounded line every game. With many uncertainties including injuries and games played, Wood can possibly fight for one of the last two slots in the All Star Game. He may miss out because of the record of the Rockets, but his line will be around 18 PPG and 9 RPG. Wood, however, must improve on his durability to showcase his skills and increase the focus and fandom on his vast abilities on the floor.