Two years after trading away James Harden and Russell Westbrook, the Houston Rockets still find themselves in the basement of the NBA’s Western Conference.
They finished 22-60 this season, which was tied for the second-worst record in the league, and they don’t have much reason for hope in the immediate future.
But Houston does have an intriguing young prospect in shooting guard Jalen Green, and he has given an audacious goal for the team next season — to make the playoffs.
Jalen Green on IG Live:
“We’re going to the playoffs next year, that’s the goal. Gonna stack up these wins” pic.twitter.com/PSmlDbRFnq
— Bradeaux (@BradeauxNBA) April 20, 2023
Green was the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and unlike many NBA players, he bypassed college and spent his age-19 season with the G League Ignite team.
Making the playoffs as soon as 2024 seems like perhaps an unrealistic goal for the Rockets, but there may be a scenario where they could make it happen.
Since they tied for the NBA’s second-worst record, they will have a real shot at getting the No. 1 pick in June’s draft, which would allow them to select French phenom Victor Wembanyama.
If they do so, and if Wembanyama quickly lives up to his immense hype, perhaps Houston can challenge for a spot in next year’s play-in tournament if they also receive plenty of internal improvement.
Green, who is a skilled one-on-one scorer, averaged 22.1 points a game this year, which was his second year in the league, but he shot just 41.6 percent overall and 33.8 percent from 3-point range.
Improving his efficiency will not only be a big key to him reaching his potential, but it would help the Rockets go from a cellar-dweller to an ascendant young team.