During the All-Star break, head coach Ime Udoka publicly mentioned that discussions were underway regarding adjustments to the Houston Rockets' rotation, given their ongoing issues since the start of 2024. Whether it's poor perimeter defense, injury woes or offensive inconsistency, the Rockets have work to do in order to attempt reaching play-in contention. However, following the break, Udoka suddenly changed his mind.

The lineup would remain the same, with the intention being to use the break for regrouping, watching film and addressing performance issues. Two games in, and it's clear the lineup still needs a shakeup. Jalen Green continues to underperform, Dillon Brooks appears to be regressing, and Alperen Sengun's defensive play has deteriorated significantly.

Amen Thompson deserves a spot

There most definitely needs to be a change in the starting rotation, and that should come by inserting rookie Amen Thompson. The 20-year-old rookie has been a force to be reckoned with since he replaced an injured Fred VanVleet as the starting point guard. In his six games as a starter, Thompson averaged a double-double, with 12.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists, shooting at an impressive 57.6 percent efficiency. Such numbers are rare for an NBA rookie.

Now, with VanVleet back in the starting five, Thompson returns to the bench. The recent success of the former Overtime Elite guard must surely merit some impact, right?

Regarding those two games, it certainly has. While the Rockets suffered a hard-to-watch loss against the New Orleans Pelicans, the rookie held his own. In 28 minutes off the bench, Thompson scored 22 points, along with five rebounds, four assists and three blocks, all while shooting 9-of-13. Much of his scoring showcased his innate ability to reach the rim against All-Stars CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson.

Another solid game for the Rockets rookie

Against the Phoenix Suns, Thompson excelled once again, but this time it was more satisfying. Along with 15 points and 10 rebounds, Thompson recorded a +15 plus-minus, adding a couple of blocks. His two blocks were against 7-foot-3 big man Bol Bol and a deflected shot attempt from future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant.

Prior to checking into the game in the first quarter, the Rockets were trailing 22-6. The starters were desperate for answers, and Thompson was their solution. He injected energy into the Rockets' shaky first half, helping them overcome a 16-point deficit to lead 57-52 at halftime.

Udoka elected to extend Thompson's minutes due to Jalen Green's inconsistencies and Brooks getting into foul trouble. This strategy proved effective, with Thompson playing a total of 33 minutes, giving the Rockets the much-needed boost off the bench. They managed to hold off Durant and Devin Booker's Suns 114-110, highlighting Thompson's significant individual impact.

“I like the way he [Thompson] is playing,” Udoka said following the win. “He is growing on a nightly basis. He brings a lot of versatility. His activity on both ends was great.”

In the month of February, the former fourth overall pick is averaging 13.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.1 blocks per game, shooting a sharp 60.7 percent field goal efficiency.

Why Rockets need Amen Thompson in the rotation

The Rockets need to make changes to the starting lineup. It doesn't have to be major, but inserting Amen Thompson can provide more versatility on defense as well as increase the pace on offense. Adding another playmaker to the starting five will reduce VanVleet's ball-handling responsibilities and open up more opportunities to get to the basket.

Moreover, the overreliance on Sengun and VanVleet's pick-and-roll has been overwhelmingly countered by opponents. While this might reduce shooting efficiency, Udoka's Rockets need an edge in speed and pace of play. The Rockets, as young as they are, fall to 17th in overall pace.

Continuing to blindly trust Jalen Green to reach superstardom has reached a point of no return. If Udoka had initial thoughts, it's time to act on them. Thompson deserves recognition; he should be the starting shooting guard. Green clearly needs an NBA wakeup call as his offensive game continues to deteriorate.

It's uncertain if he will consistently realize his talent at the NBA level. Unfortunately for him, a major wakeup call to his performance is necessary. Thompson has improved significantly over the course of this NBA season. Let's give him a chance to start in the rotation.