Season Review: Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets suffered through their 3rd-worst season in franchise history in 2020-21 with a 17-55 record, and are prepared to head into the 2021 NBA draft with the best odds at nabbing the #1 overall pick. How and why did the Rockets have such a terrible year? Their season was always going to hinge on James Harden, and when the superstar decided that he didn't want to play in Houston it was never going to be a successful year. 

With Harden gone, the Rockets had no chance to be competitive this year, and even had to endure an awful 20-game losing streak, which happened to start when Christian Wood went down with an ankle injury. One of the few bright spots for the Rockets this year, Wood firmly planted himself in the Most Improved Player debate, averaging 21.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.7 apg (all career highs), 51.4% FG & 37.9 3P%. He showed that his excellent 14-game run the previous season with Detroit was not an aberration, and that he has potential to be a star in the NBA. If he can stay healthy for next year, look for Wood to get his first All-Star nod. 

Considering he missed nearly two full years of basketball, it was a victory for John Wall just to get back on to an NBA court this season. He averaged 20.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 6.9 apg (a career low) but unfortunately, he did deal with injury issues throughout the year (playing in 40 of 71 games). When healthy, he can still be a game-changer. However, it's tough to do when you play in just about half of your team's games. In order for Houston to work its way back to prominence, Wall will need to have a relatively injury-free year next year (think 70+ games). 

What does the future hold for the Rockets? If they can snag the #1 overall pick, they will likely draft Cade Cunningham, who has the potential to be a franchise-altering talent. Should Cunningham be able to team up with both Wood and Wall, along with Kevin Porter Jr., the Rockets may get back to playoff basketball sooner than anticipated. Rockets team management doesn't foresee a lengthy rebuild, and believes in the young core of the team and its ability to bounce back next year. 

Lastly, in my season preview for the Rockets, I predicted that DeMarcus Cousins would win NBA Comeback Player of the Year. Needless to say - that was a bust of a prediction, as Cousins proved to be a far cry from even his Golden State days, averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and minutes in only 25 games with the Rockets, before being released and finishing the season with the Clippers. Tom's Take = 0/1

Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports