The Houston Rockets have lost four in a row and remain in last place in the Western Conference (third-worst record overall). With the trade deadline fast approaching in a little more than a week, the team should also look a little different soon. The younger players should soon see more minutes as the development continues.
One of those young players, No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green, will be representing the Rockets at the All-Star Weekend in the Slam Dunk Contest. Jae’Sean Tate and Alperen Sengun will also join him in the Rising Stars Challenge. Let’s talk to some Apollo contributors about these things and more!
The Rockets have lost twice to the 2-seeded Warriors in the last four games, putting up a great fight in both. What are your takeaways from those close matchups?
Brittany Wilbert (@britrobotista):
The Rockets still need to learn how to close out games. Especially in the first matchup, they had opportunities to take and sustain leads but failed to do so. In order to get to the next level, that needs to change.
Paulo Alves a.k.a. ProdiG (@PauloAlvesNBA):
My takeaways were mainly that I love the fire that KPJ shown those games. I love that the team took it personally, whether it was because of the history with that franchise or not. I didn’t love the fact that Steph Curry was getting MVP chants in Toyota Center, that was pretty shameful.
De’Vion Hinton (@LordDexHinton):
My biggest takeaway both nights has been that the Rockets aren’t as far away as it might seem looking at the record. Obviously the team is NOT good, but the difference between the Rockets winning and losing a lot of nights is moment to moment defensive mistakes that can be fixed with communication and trust that will build over time. Or just making a shot vs missing. Plus, hot take, most other teams in the league (Warriors included) aren’t actually that good.
Michael Knight (@TheKnight97):
It’s been great to see the Rockets fight in these games, despite the losses. The young players on the team need these kind of games for their development and learning process as Houston continues their rebuilding process.
Less than 10 days until the trade deadline. What deals will go down for the Rockets?
Eric Gordon should be gone, and if not that’ll be a disappointment. He deserves a chance on a contender. As for other players I’m really not sure. So much factors into when/if the Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers) trade goes down.
I believe Christian Wood, Eric Gordon and Daniel Theis will all be moved. Why? I’m not sure, maybe a bit of hopeful thinking, but according to rumors, those are the guys earning the most attention on the market and, as a rebuilding team, you’ve gotta capitalize on that.
I think an Eric Gordon trade happens for sure. If I had to guess where I’d say the Suns with the Cavs being a close second. I think DJ Augustin gets moved but I’m doubtful Christian Wood is traded at this point.
I think that Eric Gordon will get traded for a late first-round pick. There will be plenty of rumors on the deadline day, but I doubt that the Rockets will send out Christian Wood. I also think we see Daniel Theis get shipped somewhere where he can get backup center minutes.
Jalen Green was just announced to be headlining the Slam Dunk Contest this year. He’ll go against Cole Anthony, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Obi Toppin. How do you like Jalen’s odds as he represents the Rockets?
I would say his odds are pretty good (20-30%). It would be fun to watch him, but I do wish that they selected or included KJ Martin for the Slam Dunk Contest instead.
I think Jalen is definitely one of the 2 favorites and likely has the best tools out of anybody on the competition. The Final will likely be Jalen vs Toppin and hopefully Jalen pulls it off. It’s ultimately good to have something to tune into the All-Star weekend for.
I honestly couldn’t tell you much about any of these other dudes’ dunk contest dunking ability because this is a pretty D-List All Star Game. So I’m gonna just say Jalen will win because I’ve seen that kid literally float. And if he wins we’re starting the Dunk Contest Champion >>> Rookie of the Year Winner agenda.
Looking at some highlights of his previous dunk contests, I think that Jalen has a great chance of winning this thing. The dunk contest needs someone flashy like Jalen to make some headlines, because it’s been going downhill in recent years since the great LaVine-Gordon battle.
What do you expect in the first regular season matchup between Jalen Green and Evan Mobley?
I hope it will be entertaining at the very least. Even though CLE has had a lot of injuries, they are an outstanding defensive team. Hopefully Jalen Green and KPJ make this game a lot more competitive than the first matchup’s blowout lost (both were out because of injury that game). They should be able to impact the game if they play well.
I’m a pessimist, I expect us to get blown out. The Cavs are a very competent team looking for the best seed they can at the top of the east, they value wins a lot, on the other hand, there is no such pressure on the Rockets. I expect a big game from KPJ, kind of in continuation of what he’s been doing lately. We know he cares about this game a lot. Jalen will probably be obscured by Mobley, but that’s ok, plenty of time left to figure it out.
I expect Jalen’s shooting numbers to continue looking bad, honestly. With the Cavs’ reputation for rim protection and the extremely bad luck he’s had with not getting foul calls, I expect Mobley and Allen to beat him over the head all night when he goes to the rim without consequence. Hopefully Christian Wood and Sengun can avenge my son on the defensive end.
While the matchup between Green and Mobley is obviously exciting, I am looking forward to seeing KPJ play his old team for the first time. I think it could be a very exciting game that the suddenly-good Cavaliers will likely win.