Houston Rockets 2021–22 NBA Roster: Can Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun Prove Themselves to Be Franchise Cornerstones?

Published 08/18/2021, 9:57 AM EDT
Jul 29, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Jalen Green (G League Ignite) poses with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number two overall pick by the Houston Rockets in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports


Houston Rockets begin the 2020-21 season with a strong young core. Following the longest losing streak in the history of the franchise, the Rockets decided to tank the last season. Unfortunately, that included losing a franchise cornerstone in James Harden, and that too, arguably, for pennies on the dollar. However, one major upside of this loss is that the franchise now has a lot of future assets. They come as draft picks and swap rights.

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After the Westbrook trade, the franchise effectively decided for a full roster turnover, which includes the Harden and PJ Tucker trades. Houston Rockets effectively received Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, Dante Exum, DJ Augustin, DJ Wilson, and John Wall from these trades.

Consequently, Houston Rockets were relatively dormant in the free agency. Considering that they had four first-round draft picks, the Rockets did not have many spots to fill on the roster.

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Apr 5, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. (right) dribbles the ball against Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (left) during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Incoming players for the Houston Rockets

1. Daniel Theis

Daniel Theis is a German Center who can also play as a power forward. He previously played with the Boston Celtics before Chicago traded for him in 2021. Following that, he has now moved to the Houston Rockets most likely as a second option to Christian Wood and is a magnificent addition to the team.

After acquiring Daniel Theis in a sign-and-trade deal from Chicago, Rockets general manager Rafael Stone spoke about him to the NBA. “Daniel is a versatile center who impacts both ends of the court,” said Stone. Additionally, he said, “We’re looking forward to adding his skill set to our young core and giving Coach Silas even more flexibility with his lineups.”

2. Jalen Green 

The most anticipated draft pick for the Houston Rockets, Jalen Green has already proven himself to be a star. The Number 2 draft pick is arguably the most athletic 0ne of the lot.

However, many believed that Rockets missed out on Wade Cunningham who went Number 1, but Green himself has taken that fact to his heart. He believes that he should have gone Number 1 in the draft, but he did not want to live in Detroit.

Had he gotten selected Number 1, he would have been in a perplexing dilemma.

However, one thing that is for certain – he will play with a chip on his shoulder. He has shown glimpses of his capabilities in the Summer League. Had he not discontinued playing as a precautionary measure of an injury scare, he was among the favorites to win MVP in the Summer League. Indeed, one of the brightest additions to the roster.

Albeit, they will most likely ask him to start on the bench as a backup guard. But one cannot deny that he has the potential to make the starting lineup within a season.

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The reigning Turkish League MVP, Alperen Sengun has struck the NBA by lightning in the Summer League. The Number 16th draft pick averaged a double-double in the games he played in the Summer League. Indeed, he has shown tremendous range and potential at 19.

Although, until he develops into his best self and starts performing consistently in the NBA, he will most likely serve as a third-choice center.

4. Usman Garuba

The Rockets signed Usman Garuba, the 23rd overall pick in the NBA Draft, in 2021. The 19-year-old joined the Rockets’ NBA Summer League 2021 entry after appearing for the Spanish national team in the Olympics.

 

Besides winning the ACB Best Young Player award, they also awarded him the EuroLeague Rising Star last season while playing for Real Madrid in Spain’s Liga ACB. We know him for his defensive skills and will be a forward to watch out for in the coming years.

He is the most surprising draft pick for the Rockets, considering the depth in the roster for guards. However, his chemistry with Jalen Green, which dates back to their high school days, is a potentially strong asset.

While we saw glimpses of his potential in the Summer League, he will have to work extremely hard to get minutes on the court, especially considering the squad depth in guards.

Outgoing players for the Rockets

1. Kelly Olynyk

Following the best run of his career in terms of numbers at Houston, Kelly Olynyk has moved his services to Detroit. After Houston decided to build their roster around Christian Wood, it looked likely that Olynyk left due to not being guaranteed a starting role.

However, his performance got him a spot on the Pistons roster. Hopefully, he will receive the minutes he deserves at Detroit. There’s a reason they referred to him as “GOATlynyk” at Houston.

2. Avery Bradley 

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, veteran guard Avery Bradley will not return to the Rockets for the 2021-22 season. Houston has declined the $5.9 million team option in Bradley’s contract for next season, allowing the 6-foot-5 defensive standout to become a free agent.

Apr 5, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) controls the ball against Houston Rockets guard Avery Bradley (9) during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

After failing to get a qualifying offer by the deadline, D.J. Wilson will become an unrestricted free agent. Earlier, the Rockets acquired him in the P. J. Tucker deal from the Milwaukee Bucks. However, after the signing of Theis and Sengun, it was evident that Wilson would struggle for minutes on the court.

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Truly, it was a wise decision for him to look to move his services elsewhere. He averaged 5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds a game.

Rockets acquired Dante Exum from Cleveland Cavaliers as a part of the Harden trade. However, he never got to play in the Rockets uniform because of his injury. Subsequently, he became a free agent after last season and did not receive an offer for an extension from the Rockets.

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Meanwhile, he received a call from Australia in the Tokyo Olympics. Following this, he looks to sign with a team in the NBA Free Agency, but it just won’t be for the Rockets.

 

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Chaitanya Dadhwal

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