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Houston Rockets End Of Season Report

Houston Rockets Jabari Smith, Alperen Sengun, and Coach Stephen Silas

The Houston Rockets closed out their 2022-2023 season with a dismal 22-60 record, placing them at 14th in the Western Conference. This marked another rebuilding year with minimal improvements under the guidance of Coach Stephen Silas, who completed his third year at the helm, compiling a total of 59 wins and 177 losses.

Heading into the season, the Rockets aimed to continue developing their franchise star in Jalen Green. They signed a 4-year deal extension to Kevin Porter Jr., hoping for him to develop a strong ability to facilitate the basketball and build team chemistry as the starting point guard. With Green entering his sophomore campaign, the duo was expected to “be scary,” a formidable partnership. Rockets fans and media also anticipated Green to become an All-Star.

Moreover, Alperen Sengün was expected to flourish as a pick-and-roll center with Porter Jr. facilitating his plays. The departure of Christian Wood to the Dallas Mavericks opened up more minutes for Sengün, allowing him to showcase his offensive skills he briefly displayed in the prior season.

Meanwhile, KJ Martin’s trade rumors circulated due to his initial frustrations and request for a trade last season. Rookie Jabari Smith Jr., the third overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, was projected to compete for the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

The Rockets were not expected to make the playoffs, but they were aiming to reach at least 27 wins with improved defense and offense. The offseason acquisitions of Sterling Brown, Trey Burke, Marquese Chriss, Derrick Favors, and Boban Marjanovic were supposed to bring a veteran presence in the locker room. This includes Eric Gordon, who played his seventh straight season as a Rocket.

Expected Grade: C+


Despite their aspirations, the Rockets’ offense struggled yet again for a third straight season with an offensive rating of 110.5, placing them 27th in the league. The iso-heavy, slow-paced offense often saw Green or Porter Jr. making ill-advised passes or taking heavily contested shots. For the most part, the supporting cast found themselves on the wings watching Green or Porter dribble, hoping for a pass. They also led the league in turnovers along with the worst assist to turnover ratio (1.38) in the league.

On the subject of turnovers, Houston was 2nd worst in the league in turnover ratio with 13.2%.

When Porter was sidelined due to injury, the offense flowed better with Sengun as the facilitator. However, this improvement was not enough, as they continued to struggle with fast breaks and offensive consistency.

Overall Grade: D+ 


Houston’s defensive and net rating of 118.6 and -8.1 ranked 2nd to last in the league.  Key players like Green, Sengün, and Porter Jr. displayed a lack of communication and effort on the defensive end.

It wasn’t that they were necessarily small, it’s how they were coached. Silas at times appeared lost on defensive gameplans against opposing teams players. Their main issue was transition defense. Houston gave up the highest points in defensive transition, with 10.0 field goals per game. This often created a cause and effect with their costly turnovers.

Overall Defensive Grade: F

Overall Performance

Coach Stephen Silas faced criticism for his questionable coaching decisions, including his iso-heavy offensive system and misuse of rookie Jabari Smith Jr.

Silas also appeared to favor G-League level players such as Daishen Nix, Bruno Fernando, and Garrison Mathews over more promising prospects in TyTy Washington and Josh Christopher. Let’s also mention Daishen Nix played seven games as a starter, playing 29.4 minutes on putrid shooting splits of 32.7/20.0/66.7.

Unmet Expectations

Jabari was primarily used as a spot-up shooter in the corner wings, a role that did not align with his natural development as a two-way forward. Although he improved down the stretch, his performance fell below expectations, averaging 12.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 40.8% shooting, and 30.7% from three in 31 minutes across 79 games.

Jalen Green did not become an All-Star and Kevin Porter Jr.’s struggles as a facilitator hampered the team’s performance. Green averaged 22.1 points, but struggled with his overall efficiency on the court.

Relative Upside

In Porter Jr.’s absence, Sengun showed his potential as a secondary facilitator on the offensive end, averaging 14.8 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. His best month came in January, averaging 18.3 points on 9.5 rebounds and 6 assists per game. His footwork in the post improved significantly, and he finished the season with a real plus-minus of +2, a positive sign amidst a struggling team.

Tari Eason had a solid rookie campaign, and KJ Martin experienced significant development, even expressing his desire to stay in Houston. Eason proved to be a versatile wing, averaging 9.3 points, 6 rebounds (3.7 offensive rebounds), and 1.1 blocks per game, while 44.8% shooting  from the field and 34.3% from three in 21.5 minutes.

Martin on the other hand, emerged as a reliable rotation player. His stats include averages of 12.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game on a near 57% shooting.

However, an overall disappointing results from the offseason trade acquisitions, as well as Coach Silas’ coaching style, led to his dismissal. Eric Gordon and Boban Marjanovic also failed to make significant contributions to the team’s performance, with their veteran presence not providing the expected stability. Their in-season acquisitions in Justin Holiday, D.J. Augustin, and Frank Kaminsky ended up to be a non-factor. Holiday was bought out and both Augustin and Kaminsky are on expiring deals.

Overall Grade: D+

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Don’t worry! There are some silver linings. Houston finally traded away the final piece of the James Harden era in Eric Gordon, which allowed Houston to receive a pick swap in return.

Moreover, in a surprising turn of events, the Rockets hired former Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka. He led the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals in his first year. As the new head coach, Rockets fans hope Udoka brings better defensive play in the future. Udoka’s Celtics had the best defensive rating in the league during his first year. His experience, both as a player overseas and in the NBA, as well as coaching the C’s to a Finals run are expected to help develop Houston’s young core and instill a new culture of accountability and defensive effort.

What’s Next

Moving forward, the Houston Rockets must address their glaring weaknesses to level up from their rebuilding process. The 2023 NBA draft and free agency will be crucial in acquiring the necessary pieces to improve their roster. Notable players in the draft that will help are Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson, and Amen Thompson.

A primary focus should be on signing a more reliable point guard to facilitate the offense and ensure that Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., and Alperen Sengün reach their full potential. Kevin Porter Jr. is a solid offensive player, but doesn’t match the capabilities the Rockets need in a starting point guard. Hopefully Udoka can coach Porter Jr. and unleash his true potential as a formidable sixth man.

Along with Jae’Sean Tate, the team needs to invest in more wing defenders to bolster their defense and alleviate the pressure on their young stars. The development of Tari Eason and KJ Martin should remain a priority, as they possess the potential to become valuable contributors in the future.

In summary, the Houston Rockets’ 2022-2023 season was marked by disappointments and unmet expectations. However, with the hiring of Ime Udoka and the potential for growth in their young core, there is hope for a brighter future. By making the right moves in the offseason, such as signing Ime Udoka, the team may once again become a force to be reckoned with in the NBA.


Jeremy Gretzer is a Contributor and Editor of Back Sports Page. His Twitter Handle is @jr_gretzer along with Instagram as @j.r.gretzer.


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