Houston Rockets are embarking on a new era as they enter the 2023/24 NBA season with a new coach in place and a couple of new signings.
The Rockets opted to end Stephen Silas' time in charge at the end of last season after three years in the hot seat, bringing in former Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka as his replacement.
Houston hasn't reached the postseason since James Harden left for Brooklyn in 2021 and they will be seeking to end a three-year absence from the playoffs this season.
|2022/23 Houston Rockets||2022/23 record: 22-60|
|Result: Missed playoffs|
|To win 2023/24 Finals||+20000|
|To win 2023/24 Western Conference||+10000|
After a stellar tenure in college with Wichita State, Fred VanVleet entered the NBA as an undrafted free agent and kept making plays for the Toronto Raptors in his first seven years in the league, including winning an NBA Title in 2018/19.
In the 2023 offseason, 29-year-old VanVleet signed a three-year contract worth $128 million with the Houston Rockets.
|Amen Thompson||Draft/Overtime Elite|
|Kenyon Martin Jr.||Los Angeles Clippers|
The Houston Rockets kick off their season under new coach Ime Udoka by visiting an Eastern Conference opponent, the Orlando Magic, on Oct. 25.
Then, Houston gets an early look at intrastate rivals the San Antonio Spurs and rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama on Oct. 27, followed by a home game against the Golden State Warriors Oct. 29.
The game against the Dubs kicks off a six-game homestand with games against the Charlotte Hornets, two in a row against the Sacramento Kings, then matchups with the Los Angeles Lakers, the New Orleans Pelicans, and the reigning champions the Denver Nuggets.
The Rockets have a tough start to the season with three games against the Nuggets, three games against the Lakers, and two games against the Warriors in the first two months of the season.
The Rockets were one of the NBA's worst teams during the 2022/23 season, but with the additions of quality rookies and experienced veterans capable of putting up big numbers, their improved roster should be in line for an increased win total from last year.
With their over/under for total wins at 31.5, that indicates a better season is ahead of the team.
Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., and Tari Eason are all past their rookie years, and third-year forward Alperen Sengun is entering the season with Most Improved Player buzz - he has the joint-seventh-shortest odds in that market at +1600.
Sengun saw the following statistical increases from his rookie year in 2021/22 to his sophomore season: 9.6 points per game to 14.8, 5.5 rebounds to 9.0, 2.6 assists to 3.9, 47.4 field goal percentage to 55.3, and 24.8 three-point percentage to 33.3.
The presence of Amen Thompson, a 6'7" guard who dropped a promising 16 points, five assists, and four rebounds in his only Summer League appearance, will open things up on the perimeter and take the playmaking burden off of VanVleet.
Adding VanVleet and Brooks gives Udoka a pair of leaders who can ensure the team's many young players are working hard and operating the right way. Brooks' aggressiveness can benefit his team just as easily as it can hurt, so Udoka will certainly urge him to pick his spots when it comes to messing with his opponents.
Green took a big step up in his production last season, increasing his points per game average from 17.3 in his rookie year to 22.1 last year. Entering the 2023/24 season at just 21-years-old, Green will want to play more efficiently in a team that should improve upon last year's record and as a result he is +4000 to win Most Improved Player.