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Rockets preseason woes ‘correctable’ amid struggles from young stars

Jalen Green Alperen Sengun Rockets

It’s safe to say that people are generally more excited to watch this year’s Rockets’ team versus last year’s team. Houston has an exciting cast that includes Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba, Kevin Porter Jr., and Josh Christopher – all of which are under the age of 22. It’s a breath of fresh air for an organization that wants to turn the page from a disappointing season. In fact, everything in the organization is relatively new: Ownership, leadership, coaching, and even a change in commentary is coinciding with this youth movement.

And while all that is exciting for diehard fans of the team, it does present challenges the franchise hasn’t had to face in over a decade: particularly losing. It’s easy to get excited about a rebuild during the offseason and even training camp, but when the harsh reality of being a young team in the NBA sets in, it’s hard. It’s hard to play, it’s hard to coach, and it’s hard to watch unless you’re really committed. The Rockets are getting a small taste of this in the preseason.

Houston Rockets, Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr.

“We need to grow from it,” said Stephen Silas after Houston lost to the Raptors by 15 on Monday. “30 turnovers. A lot of it was just poor decision making. It wasn’t like they were dead ball type situation. They were bad passes, they were steals as we were trying to attack, and that sort of thing. So, we got to clean it up.”

With a backcourt that is barely old enough to rent a car, the Rockets are going to have a lot of these nights. Young players in the league are notorious for turnovers, bad defense, and inefficient shooting. Silas has been around long enough to understand this, but in the meantime, he still has to teach this group to learn from these mistakes.

“I see everything as correctable,” said Silas when asked how inexperience contributes to nights like this. “We will watch the film and hopefully help as far as our spacing and our reads and that kind of thing. But the more you see situations, the better you get at them. For Jalen [Green], for example, a lot of his [turnovers] were just the reads that he hasn’t seen before.”

Green had seven of Houston’s 28 turnovers on Monday and it seemed to affect his aggressiveness as he only ended the game with six field goal attempts, four of which were missed threes. This was a theme for the game as the Rockets went 0-for-10 from beyond the arc in the first half, a low number of attempts for a franchise that usually takes 40-50 threes per game. Houston turned that around and attempted 20 in the second half, but it was too little too late.

“We didn’t shoot enough,” said Kevin Porter Jr. “We’re not going to get our rhythm if we’re not shooting the ball. There was a lot of pump-faking and a lot of shots that we should have took out there. And our hands probably just got cold after not feeling the rock. When we decided to shoot it, gaining your rhythm in quarter three and four is a little harder versus the first two.”

Much like limiting the turnovers, Houston’s coaching staff believes this is correctable and that they can teach the group to get a healthy volume of threes.

“We’re going to kind of go over over the next few days what it takes to get those [threes] and what situations,” said Silas. “How we can use rolls, how we can use drive and kick, how we can use actions to draw second and third defenders so we can get to the direct pass for a three or pass to the next pass for an open three.”

On the whole, this is a healthy attitude for the coaching staff to have. Even if the group doesn’t take to these concepts right away, building a foundation starts from the ground up. And the Rockets have quite a lot of foundation to build.