Heading toward the 2021-22 NBA season, the Houston Rockets are in a weird middle ground where they've started to tear down the foundation from the previous regime, but haven't quite finished yet.

There are 8 players on the roster aged 25-years or older so it's not exactly the youngest roster in the NBA. At the same time, they've also managed to acquire 6 players 21-years or younger over the past year. Trying to chart a successful season for a team like this may be difficult, but it's actually a lot easier when you take win totals out of it. If Houston accomplish a few simple objectives, Rockets fans can walk into next offseason with a sense of forward momentum.

1. Jalen Green shows flashes of All-Star talent

Let's be clear here: This is not saying Green has to make an All-Star team next season. However, for Green to justify his selection as the second overall pick in a stacked draft class, he has to show flashes of the kind of player a lot of people expect him to become. At the G League level, Green was an electric athlete who managed to be an efficient scorer against professional talent. It's unlikely he's a 60% true shooting guy his first season in the NBA, but if he can have a season similar to what Anthony Edwards had last year, Houston should be thrilled by what they have in him.

2. Kevin Porter Jr. takes a step forward in his development

I've written before about how next season is a critical season for Kevin Porter Jr. personally. However, for the Rockets specifically, it would be a huge boom in their rebuilding plans if they can get Porter Jr. to take his next logical steps as a player. Houston will eventually need to add playmakers on the roster to place around Jalen Green. However if Porter Jr. becomes a dynamic point guard for them, it alleviates a lot of that need. The defense will also be something to watch next season.

3. The Rockets resolve both the John Wall and Eric Gordon situations

John Wall and Eric Gordon are not long for the Rockets and all parties know it. The problem is obviously the difficult in moving their contracts via trade. Gordon will need to re-establish his trade value during the season, but there's good reason to believe Houston will find a suitor for his services. However, for Wall, the Rockets will almost assuredly have to resort to a contract buyout.

It's going to be pricey, but it's best for Houston's player development. Both Wall and Gordon are taking up valuable minutes that could be going to young players on the roster and the sooner Houston can move on from them, the faster they can redistribute those minutes. Mark down February as a month to watch for movement on these fronts. It's difficult to imagine Gordon making it past the trade deadline and after the deadline is where you usually see prominent contract buyouts.

4. Last season's rookies play well

The Rockets had two rookies on the team last season: Jae'Sean Tate and Kenyon Martin Jr. Both players had impressive years despite the grim circumstances and if both of them can come back and have similar seasons, the Rockets are in a good place. It's important to remember that development isn't always linear and a lot of players flatline their second seasons. However, a flatline would actually be great for both Martin Jr. and Tate. There was a always lingering doubt about Martin Jr.'s three-point percentage last season (36.5%) and if he returns next season and shoots at a similar rate, that's a win. The same goes for Tate's stellar defense.

5. Danuel House Jr. plays like Danuel House Jr. again

It's been a weird couple of years for Danuel House Jr. House Jr. clearly has NBA talent and he's shown he can be a productive role player in the past. However, the way his stint in the Orlando bubble ended erased a lot of the franchise's trust in his abilities. The talks about a possible extension are encouraging, but next season is a “Prove it” year for House Jr. Having House Jr. play well restores his value as an asset or the Rockets could lose him in free agency for nothing.

6. Alperen Sengun translates his talent to the NBA

It's kind of monumental that Alperen Sengun displays how translatable his talent is to the NBA. Houston made a pretty significant bet on him when they traded two future first to acquire the rights to draft him through Oklahoma City. Obviously, it would be nice for Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher also have successful rookie campaigns for Houston, but the Rockets only used two late firsts on them. This could be a year where the Rockets have two or three rookies play in the G League, including Sengun. However if Sengun plays for the Vipers, he has to put up the numbers of a lottery level talent.

Obviously, not all of these objectives will be accomplished. But if Houston can hit like four out of six of these, that's a successful season. Wins and losses don't really matter at this stage in the process. That will come later, but for now it's the little things that you have to gauge for long-term growth.