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A fans guide to the 2021-22 Houston Rockets season

Houston Rockets Ultimate Fan Guide, NBA Season

If you were a Rockets fan entering the season with an optimistic outlook, Wednesday night’s beatdown against the Minnesota Timberwolves may have served as an unwelcome reality check. It’s just one game, but it lines up with most experts and projection models thought Houston would be this year – a really bad basketball team.

This is kind of the norm with very young teams like the Rockets – they make defensive mistakes, they’re taken advantage of physically, and they haven’t grown into their own as offensive players yet. However, if you’re someone hell-bent on staying with the team through all 82-games this year, this is the guide for you.

Rockets Ultimate Fan Guide

1. Temper your expectations

It may seem like it, but it’s not too late to temper your expectations for the 2021-22 Rockets. If you thought they had a distinct chance of being a play-in tournament team, recalibrating your hopes for the team is the healthiest thing you can do right now. Accepting the fact that Houston will be an underdog on nearly every night of the NBA season will make the games much easier to watch. Of course you may root for them to win, but try not to be so devastated when the don’t.

2. Watch for progress outside of the win column

It’s unlikely the Rockets will be a worse team than they were last year, but the improvement isn’t going to be more than a few games. So instead of viewing progress as winning more games, look for things like “Is Kevin Porter Jr. better than he was last year?” or “How is Alperen Sengun progressing as an NBA defender?”. These are just random examples, but you get the gist. Every young player on the roster has something they can get better at and those are easy markers to keep an eye on.

3. Be wary of getting attached to players on the roster

For a lot of people, clinging on to a favorite player or buying jerseys are some of the core elements to being a fan of an NBA team. However, every habit you picked up from being a fan of a contender for the past eight years don’t apply to being a fan of a rebuilding team. Until someone on the roster shows star potential, they aren’t safe on a rebuilding roster. Pretty much everyone gets thrown around in trade discussions and you’ll get your heart broken if you get attached to someone like Jae’Sean Tate and he gets traded at the February trade deadline. The Rockets in particular are notoriously calculating and they’ve stayed that way since Daryl Morey left the team last year.

4. Understand the bigger picture

The primary goal of any rebuilding team isn’t to win games, it’s to find a star player. Star players are the only things that pull you out of rebuilding and into contention. Everything else gets you to the middle of the pack. Over the next few years, the Rockets will take swings in the draft (Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, etc…), throw their hat into nearly every star chase, and prepare for the free agency of 2023 where they’ll have two max cap slots. So if you can’t help but find yourself bummed out after a Rockets loss, throw on a Youtube video of Chet Holmgren and realize there’s a method to the madness.

5. Find ways to make the season fun

If you’re a traditional fan who just watches the games and then tunes out when they’re done, this season is going to be hell for you. Believe it or not, these fans exist and I’ve talked to many of them. If you’re going to be a Rockets this year, you’re going to have to do the things that diehard fans are already doing in order to enjoy it. Make a Twitter account, subscribe to a Rockets podcast, pay attention to the big transaction periods (December, February, etc..), commiserate with other Rockets fans on Reddit, etc.

As hard as rebuilding is, it can also be fun, but one has to put in the effort to make it that way. Philadelphia 76ers fans were famous for building an entire subculture around the team’s rebuilding. Rockets fans don’t have to go that far, but nowhere does it say you have to be miserable, especially when new the front office appears to know what they’re doing.