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2023/24 NBA season: What’s next for the Houston Rockets?

The first thing that comes to mind when reviewing the Houston Rockets’ 2022/2023 season is the word ‘poor’.

The Rockets finished 22-60, which was tied for the second worst record in the entire league. 

To be fair, the Rockets were never expected to do much in terms of success. They have had three straight losing seasons as they continue to do their best in what has been a lengthy rebuilding process.

Despite their obvious struggles, the best thing to do for the Rockets is to look ahead to the upcoming season after bringing in promising talent in the 2023 NBA Draft.

This article will examine what is next for the franchise as they gear up for the 2023/2024 season.

Rockets land top prospects in 2023 draft

Leading up to the 2023 NBA Draft, the Rockets looked to be in a decent position to snag the number one overall pick after ending 2022-23 being tied for the second-worst record in the league.

Unfortunately for the Rockets, they did not win the first overall pick. 

They were not even fortunate enough to be awarded the second overall pick, as the Rockets slid all the way down to fourth overall.

Being in the top five still has its advantages, but picks one through three were the most talented prospects in the Draft overall, so falling to fourth had to be disappointing.

Regardless, the Rockets drafted Amen Thompson, a 6 '7" guard who played for the Overtime Elite in the G-League, with the fourth-overall pick.

During the 2022/2023 season, Thompson averaged 16.4 points per game, 5.9 rebounds per game and 5.9 assists per game.

Across the 2022/2023 G-League playoffs, his averages rose to 17.2 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, and 9.2 assists per game. 

The Rockets also selected Cam Whitmore, a guard from Villanova, with the 20th overall pick.

Whitmore averaged 12.5 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game in his single collegiate season. He was also efficient from the field, shooting 47.8 percent.

Both Whitmore and Thompson should get ample playing time in their rookie seasons, and could be a well needed boost for the Rockets.

Veterans added in VanVleet, Brooks

Not counting the rookies that Houston just drafted, there are several guys to look out for this season.

Starting with Fred VanVleet, who just recently signed a three-year, $130 million dollar contract with the Rockets.

VanVleet will add a veteran presence to the Rockets, and one they desperately need, as he averaged 19.3 points per game for the Toronto Raptors last season. 

That number could increase given that he will have the ball in his hands a ton this season.

Another player that could play a key role this season is Dillon Brooks, who signed a four-year, $86 million dollar deal with the Rockets over the offseason with an additional $4 million in incentives.

While he is a less popular option after last season’s antics in the playoffs, Brooks averaged 14.3 points per game with the Memphis Grizzlies last season. At the very least, he could provide depth as a role player.

One other player worth mentioning is Alperen Sengun. He will be entering his third season in the NBA and has already shown improvement.

As a rookie, Sengun averaged 9.6 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game. In his second season, he won a spot in the starting lineup and averaged 14.8 points per game and 9.0 rebounds per game.

The mix of young and veteran players should at the very least make this season more interesting for the Rockets and they should improve on the 22 wins they had last year.

The only other major change for this upcoming season is that the Rockets hired Ime Udoka as their new head coach.

Rockets odds for 2023/24

The Rockets may not be at the level where they will contend for the NBA Finals, but with the NBA Draft and free agency signings, they should certainly be more competitive this season and could push for a playoff spot this season.

Houston has rather long odds to make the playoffs at +625, but improvements from key players could increase their chances. Only Washington, San Antonio, Charlotte, and Detroit have equal or longer odds.

The Rockets' projected win total is 31.5, higher than only four teams: the Washington Wizards, San Antonio Spurs, Charlotte Hornets, and the Detroit Pistons.

They are -130 to beat that projection while the under is +150.

Thompson has the sixth-shortest odds to win Rookie of the Year at +2500, and Sengun is +1600 to win Most Improved Player, the sixth-shortest odds in that category.

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