Ime Udoka Akins Rockets Rookie to Benched Nets Star Ben Simmons; Pushes Him Out of Comfort Zone

Published 01/23/2024, 8:21 PM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

Despite being one of the lower-ranked teams in the Western Conference for the 2023 season, the Houston Rockets have been making strides. With a young core, they are trailing the Los Angeles Lakers by just two games. Currently hindered by injuries, they will face the Portland Trail Blazers at the Toyota Center on Wednesday evening. Blazer will be playing a back-to-back and the Rockets will be recovering from a recent defeat by the Boston Celtics. The home game and Blazer’s stretch make the Rockets a favorite for the game. However, the latest source of joy is reported to be Amen Thompson.

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In the previous game, Thompson made his first NBA start, showcasing the potential versatility he can bring to the Rockets. Additionally, it’s assumed that Amen delivered his best performance for the Rockets thus far.

Ime Udoka sees hints of Ben Simmons in Amen Thompson

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Discussing Amen’s potential, head coach Ime Udoka asserted that Thompson possesses a well-rounded skill set, encompassing athleticism, speed, size, and passing abilities. Drawing a comparison to Ben Simmons, Udoka highlighted Amen’s ability to push the pace and locate open teammates.

However, Udoka didn’t stop at the accolades. He emphasized the need to propel Amen out of his comfort zone. Recognizing Amen’s inclination to operate primarily with the ball, Ime presents Thompson with the next challenge—finding comfort and proficiency in playing off the ball.

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While Ime doesn’t rule out the option of Amen handling the ball, he advocates for enhancing Thompson’s versatility across the majority of the Rockets’ lineups. Ime recommends working on identifying open lanes, utilizing his speed to cut through defenders, crashing the boards, and creating opportunities on the second side of the court.

Thompson marked his career best in his first NBA start

Being chosen as the No. 4 pick in the 2023 Draft, Amen Thompson emerged as the Rockets’ point guard for the future. However, his first start came just days ago, against the league-leading Boston Celtics. The Rockets were missing Fred VanVleet and Jabari Smith Jr. due to injuries. Despite the Celtics dominating, Thompson managed to ignite optimism for the team’s future. He marked a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds, shooting an impressive 50%; marking a career-best figure for the rookie in points and rebounds.

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In a previous matchup against the Utah Jazz, despite an average offensive performance, Thompson showcased his talents on the defensive end. With 2 steals, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks in just 18 minutes, he played a pivotal role. Additionally, Thompson executed a game-saving defensive stop late in the contest, solidifying his impact in the needed times.

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Written by:

Saahil Dhillan

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“Places you go in life – it opens your eyes up and you kind of understand who you are.” - This is my philosophy in life. I want to go to innumerable places and get inspired by the people and experiences I come across, just like Dwayne Wade.
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Edited by:

Sameen Nawathe

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