The Houston Rockets are one of the youngest teams in the league. Rising stars such as Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason, and even Alperen Sengun have the potential of becoming one of the deepest rotations in the next few years. While this is certainly possible, it isn’t without hard work, dedication, patience, and a solid coaching staff. There’s also one more thing that a young core needs, and that is veteran leadership.
Why does a Team Need Veteran Leadership?
Remember when you first learned how to ride a bike? Who helped you learn? Was it one of your parents who taught you how? Regardless, it’s definitely more difficult to learn how to ride a bike if there’s no one there to teach you. Without a mentor, you often become stagnant at the skill you sought to master. At times you plateau, and it becomes more difficult to make significant strides. This is a perfect example of a young NBA team with no significant veteran players. The types of ballclubs that struggle getting over the hump are usually the ones that don’t develop chemistry and comradery with their veterans. For the Houston Rockets, lets take a look at a few experienced players they acquired and retained in the offseason.
Gordon is approaching his 7th consecutive season with the Rockets. His contributions during the James Harden era earned him Sixth Man Of the Year. With his electric three-point shooting, he was a nice addition to Mike D’Antoni’s system. He made four straight trips to the postseason, with 2018 being the closest at an NBA Finals appearance. At age 33, he serves as a veteran presence with loads of postseason experience. A trade request to a title contender would have given him another crack at a ring. At this point, Gordon appears to enjoy his current role as a mentor to the young guys.
Throughout the following season, Gordon will have the ability to showcase the growing pains of being in the NBA for not only the rookies, but also the players heading into their sophomore season. He will also push players in their young career to continue improving their game. His leadership will set the example of how important it is for the young developing core as the team continues it’s road back to relevance.
Marjanovic came the the trade via a trade this offseason. He’s regarded as one of the most lovable players in the league and is always great to interview. He’s a journeyman with playoff experience on teams such as the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Dallas Mavericks. A 7’4 center, he spent most of his years as a beloved player in Dallas. Although he won’t necessarily fill the stat sheet, his presence in the clubhouse brings positive spirits to the team. Whenever the team goes through a losing streak or a tough loss, Marjanovic will be there to comfort the young disgruntled Rockets. The Serbian big man will especially help the younger centers with positioning themselves at the right time during plays on the court.
Favors was the other piece the Rockets acquired. His experience stems from multiple years of playoff experiences, with majority coming as a starting Power Forward for the Utah Jazz. At age 31, he can still be a productive player on the court and share his playoff veteran leadership with the young players. Just like Utah in 2011, the Rockets are in a similar situation. Favors was a rookie in Utah, and played during the tail end of Utah’s playoff window. This occurred after the departure of point guard Deron Williams. After only a few years, Utah was back in playoff contention, and Favors was in the middle of it. The crafty power forward is able to share experience from rebuilding to a playoff team, which impacts the young Rockets in a significant way.
Houston’s young core has three main veterans with sufficient experience. The great thing about them is while they’re veterans, each of them have different NBA careers. Gordon has been on the Rockets since their multiple postseason runs. Boban comes from joining various postseason teams during his career, and Favors’ experience comes from a team coming off the Deron Williams era into multiple rebuilding and playoff runs. General Manager Rafael Stone acquired these particular veterans for a reason.
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