Rockets Notes: Green, Harden, VanVleet, Veterans

In an interesting article for ESPN, Zach Lowe details why Jalen Green could be the key for the Rockets to turn the corner in 2023/24 and beyond.

Green, 21, had impressive counting stats in his second season, averaging 22.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 3.7 APG in 76 games (34.2 MPG). However, as Lowe notes, the former No. 2 overall pick struggled at times with scoring efficiency (.416/.338/.786 shooting), decision-making (2.6 turnovers per game) and defense.

According to Lowe, Green has shown he can make all the pick-and-roll passes necessary to manipulate defenses, but has been inconsistent with actually executing them. Lackadaisical play on both ends has also been an issue, but the team believes it can be corrected.

This is a huge year for him,” GM Rafael Stone told ESPN. “It’s on him to really put together all the things he’s worked on. You see individual games where he’s locked in — whether it’s on-ball defense, help-side defense, making the right reads in the pick-and-roll. And then there are other games where he just kind of let go of the rope. He’s a bucket. It’s about all the little things.”

Green will be eligible for a rookie scale extension next summer.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Houston wants to lean into Green’s play-making, which is one reason why the team went after Fred VanVleet — who is adept at playing both on and off the ball — instead of James Harden in free agency, Lowe writes in the same story. “Nothing against James,” head coach Ime Udoka told ESPN, “but Fred is just a better fit. I coached James in Brooklyn. He’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever been around. The words ‘Ime doesn’t want James’ never came out of my mouth. It was, ‘Let’s look at the best fit.’ If we want Jalen and the young guys to take the next steps, we need them to have the ball. As for me saying I don’t want James, that was never the case. It was about fit.”
  • VanVleet has made an immediate impact on Houston with his leadership and savvy two-way play, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “I’m more of a booster, a confidence giver, energy giver with all of these guys — especially Jabari (Smith),” VanVleet said. “Keep boosting and instilling that confidence because when guys go out there and play free, you’ll get the best version of them.”
  • VanVleet isn’t the only veteran the Rockets added in free agency this summer, with Dillon Brooks and Jeff Green also in the fold. As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscriber link) writes, their experience and skill should help a young team going forward. “First and foremost, I would say experience,” Green said of what he will bring. “Being in every type of situation possible, winning the championship last year, going to the playoffs multiple years, I bring the experience itself and teaching these young guys what it takes to be a true professional. The winning aspect, what it takes, the everyday grind, them seeing it, I think it will help in the long run.”
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