Houston does not take off: the problem of not having a winning mentality

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Houston does not take off: the problem of not having a winning mentality

Every season, the nba brings a new surprise to the viewer. Players who are relevant again, teams that go against the established and even coaches who silence critics. At the same time, as in life, there are things that, no matter how hard you try, they cannot be changed. This is the case of the Houston Rockets and, perhaps, the team with the least winning mentality in the entire league.

When a project falls, another resurfaces over the years. The process of reconstruction of the Rockets after the departure of James Harden last January 13, 2021 Course to Brooklyn it has not finished settling down. Raphael Stone, general manager of the franchise, has drawn a blurred roadmap to follow, full of erasures and erasures. If the board itself does not know where to go, the team is doomed to suffer the same history every night on the track. The future in Houston is not hopeful. The tunnel is so long that not a hint of light is visible.

The franchise that was champion in 1994 Y nineteen ninety five with olajuwon as a star, signed his best results of the last two decades in 2015 Y 2018when they succumbed to Conference Finals before some warriors who would win both championships. The aforementioned Harden led a lethal team that, under the tutelage of Mike D’Antoni, he was a constant threat from triple. Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Nene either Clint Capela, among others, were secondary luxury one of the nightmares of the NBA. the acquaintance 7 seconds or less that the technician implemented in the phoenix suns of Steve Nash it was updated and improved in Texas. The machine was oiled to perfection.

James Harden and Clint Capela during the 2018 Conference Playoff Semifinals

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James Harden and Clint Capela during the 2018 Conference Playoff SemifinalsTim WarnerAFP

After that, they could not match the mark in the postseason, staying in the second round the following two seasons. The air of revolution and transformation was flying over Houston. The terrible attitude of the now escort of the Sixers, forcing his transfers beyond limits that the sport does not teach, helped accelerate a metamorphosis that caught everyone off guard. The Rockets, who had come to playoffs eight consecutive seasonsthey had to return to the mud.

Several teams had captured how to correctly do the so-called tanking in previous campaigns. Two years after the Texan franchise tried to emulate it, the result it couldn’t have been worse. The involution has outpaced progress. The doubts have not only not been clarified, but have grown. It is not worth having young talents, with relevance in the ncaa, Europe Y FIBA, but you have to create a philosophy, a theory that you can then put into practice. When ideas mix, you don’t come to a common point.

And this has happened in several facets. Eric Gordon, the only survivor of “the old guard”, serves as a mentor to a few disoriented young people. Despite being a team with little experience, there is already a hierarchy within the locker room, related to potential. Alperen Senguna key player for Turkey in the last Eurobasket, Jalen Greenformer player of Ignite and number two of the 2021 Draft and Jabari Smithbrand new number three of the last gala, are the leaders of the new project.

Before moving on to the secondary ones, it is worth focusing on the main characters. It is curious that each of them has chosen a different path to get to the NBA. Sengun, just 20 yearswas chosen MVP of the Turkish league with the jersey of Besiktas When I had 18. Their averages of 19 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.3 steals they helped him to be chosen as the best player in one of the best European competitions. Later he would be selected in position 16 in the same gala as Green (2nd) Garuba (23rd) and Josh Christopher (24th).

Alperen Sengun (Houston Rockets) vs. Los Angeles Lakers

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Alperen Sengun (Houston Rockets) vs. Los Angeles Lakers Kirby LeeUSA TODAY Sports

His importance in the Ottoman team has gone from less to more. He came to the past Eurobasket as one of the players to watch and came out as one of the great stars of the tournament. His inner presence, together with Sertac Sanlicenter of barcaand the lowering of Mike James they allowed him to stand out on an individual level. Turkey would lose to France in the round of 16.

The case of Jalen Green is somewhat more curious. he was the first player signed by Ignite and the pioneer in choosing another different path to NCAA in American basketball. The G League created this team with, at that time, headquarters in Walnut Creek (California), the intention of attracting young talent. The shooting guard signed a one-season contract and $500,000. This retribution could not be perceived in college basketball. She opened the door to the next ones to join the team now based in Henderson, Nevada What Jonathan Kuminga, Dyson Daniels, Jaden Hardy either ‘Scoot’ Hendersonwho will fight the number one in the 2023 Draft with Victor Wembanyama.

Jabari Smith was the most conventional of all. His good season at the University of Auburn catapulted him to be the favorite in the pools to be number one in the past Draft. He was finally chosen in the third position. His expectations, so far, have exceeded him. It is not showing the expected level, except flashes in defense and perhaps a good performance from the triple. The same thing happened with Green last season, he didn’t manage to show good basketball until March.

Jabari Smith (Houston Rockets) celebrates a basket against the Sacramento Kings

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Jabari Smith (Houston Rockets) celebrates a basket against the Sacramento KingsSergio EstradaUSA TODAY Sports

It may be chance, but the narrative invites us to think that it’s not by chance. In a team where you don’t want to compete, where there is no line that defines where you want to go, the pieces don’t fit. It is also curious that players, a priori with less importance, such as Jae Sean Tate (forward who was playing in Belgium and Australia), tari eason (fresh from Louisiana State University), usman garuba Y Kenyon Martin Jr. they show the grit and dedication that their talented peers have not exhibited.

It is worth mentioning that Kevin Porter Jr., the team’s starting point guard, is between both categories. Even with 22 yearsthe former player of cleveland already has history in the league. Your unfurnished head does not match the enormous talent that he has in his hands. Without reaching the step of the three previously mentioned, it is more than important for the interests of Silas. The experiment of backcourt with Jalen Green has dated, for the moment, irregularly, except few occasions. The growth of Houston in the short term depends on its regularity.

Usman Garuba (Houston Rockets) celebrates against the Minnesota Timberwolves

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Usman Garuba (Houston Rockets) celebrates against the Minnesota TimberwolvesTroy TaorminaUSA TODAY Sports

Precisely the technician 49 years, is one of the focuses of critical attention. starting your third season in charge of the Rockets (first experience as a head coach after almost two decades as an assistantStephen Silas has not hit the key. The little interest that Houston generates saves him from even more criticism, but he may not be the ideal one to hold the keys to the new project.

The Texan team has potential on the bench closer than you think. mahmoud abdelfattahchampion coach of the G League last season with Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the subsidiary, and now Silas’s assistant, has ballots to replace him if things go further. Abdelfattah became the first coach Muslim Y Palestinian to earn a degree in American professional basketball.

Precisely in Vipers, its subsidiary, it is highlighting Ty Ty Washington, the former point guard Kentucky that presents a different figure that Houston does not yet have and that, for the moment, is venting in the development league. good scorer and organizer, engaged in defense and choral player. Garuba, after a good Eurobasket, begins to appear in rotation little by little (16 minutes per night) and with an importance from less to more.

Last season they were worst team in nba (20-62), and this year they are on their way to repeating the feat. not even with a Draft number two and three they have managed to make slight progress in an increasingly competitive West. teams like Oklahoma (who can’t enjoy Holmgren this campaign), Orlando, Indiana or even Saint Anthony They have shown a better image with the same or less potential for the future. The problem may not have to do with the level of the players, but in the mentality of the team.

With no set course, the Rockets are destined to wander in the desert without finding a nearby oasis, good news that makes them see that they are on the right track. The players arrive, but the group is not created. It could be that the problem comes from the directiveor that the coach Don’t get the best out of each other or your own players who do not find motivation. The setback comes when, whatever talent arrives, the team is not prepared to compete. Chaos prevails over order, and that is the main concern of a franchise that does not have a winning mentality.

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