2022-23 Kia Season Preview

2022-23 Season Preview: Houston Rockets

Houston remains optimistic about its youthful roster and new additions for the 2022-23 season.

How will the pairing of rising star Jalen Green (left) and No. 3 pick Jabari Smith Jr. help Houston succeed in 2022-23?

With the Rockets’ rebuilding project continuing to unfold this season, we will once again see Houston rely heavily on its young core. But unlike last season, that emerging young roster may actually start winning more consistently in 2022-23. The Rockets experienced their fair share of losing in 2021-22, finishing with the NBA’s worst record (20-62). They also labored through multiple losing streaks shortly into the campaign (15), around the holidays (eight), most of February through early March (12), and to close out the season (seven).

Though Houston struggled in its first full season without James Harden, the Rockets still collected victories that did not often reflect in the win-loss column. They saw promise in key young players Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr. and Jae’Sean Tate. They liked how coach Stephen Silas handled a mostly inexperienced group with both an encouraging and firm touch. And amid their season-long struggles, the Rockets accumulated more Draft picks and made other key offseason moves to help their future.

Houston selected a pair of talented forwards in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft both at the beginning with No. 3 pick Jabari Smith, and in the middle, with No. 17 pick Tari Eason.

The Rockets dealt reliable center Christian Wood to Dallas for various expiring contracts, the No. 26 pick Wendell Moore (who was then flipped to Minnesota for the draft rights to the No. 29 pick TyTy Washington Jr., as well as two future picks (2025, 2027).

Shortly into training camp, Houston acquired center Derrick Favors and a future second-round pick as part of an eight-player trade with Oklahoma City. The Rockets are not done either. Beyond needing to trim their 18 guaranteed contracts down to 15 by Oct. 17, they could make deals involving Eric Gordon and Kenyon Martin Jr. But regardless of what changes happen with the roster, the Rockets should feel optimistic about two things: They should become more competitive in the 2022-23 season. And also have plenty of roster and cap flexibility moving forward.


It appears likely the Rockets will improve this season but by how much? It is hard to imagine the Rockets playing any worse than they did last year. Young players, especially lottery picks, also develop quicker when they play more. Yet, the Rockets are competing in a Western Conference that is expected to have more postseason contenders than rebuilding teams. Barring major setbacks to a handful of teams, the Rockets will likely struggle to squeeze into a crowded playoff picture.


The Rockets’ young core will make encouraging progress. Houston will not labor through multiple double-digit losing streaks as it did last season, either. But the Rockets do not appear ready for liftoff just yet. The Western Conference has plenty of viable playoff contenders. Houston will need time to develop three rookies (Smith, Eason, Washington) with three second-year players (Green, Şengün, Garuba). The Rockets’ long-term future, however, looks promising. Houston will have plenty of assets to bolster its roster next summer through the draft and free agency. Projection: Draft Lottery.


Kevin Porter Jr.: Despite his ups and downs as a young player, Porter has at least shown enough upside to land the starting point guard spot.

Jalen Green: After impressing the Rockets with his explosiveness and athleticism during his rookie season, Green appears capable of a stellar encore by showing off his refined ballhandling and decision-making. 

Eric Gordon: If Gordon remains in a Rockets uniform, expect him to start most games so he can nurture his young teammates with his experience, shooting and defense.

Jabari Smith Jr.: Smith is expected to make an immediate impact with his scoring touch and positional versatility. 

Alperen Şengün: After serving as Wood’s backup last season, Şengün appears ready for the starting center spot as a dependable passer, rebounder and defender.


Jae’Sean Tate: He has a case to start after inking a new deal, but Tate appears more valuable as a sixth man because of his energy and versatility as a passer and defender.

Tari Eason: The rookie does not appear afraid to get in the mix, as indicated by his aggressiveness at the rim and his defense.

TyTy Washington Jr.: He seems ready to provide needed backup point guard minutes to help the Rockets absorb any of Porter’s hiccups.

Josh Christopher: Look for Christopher to make strides with both his confidence and two-way capabilities in his second season.

Usman Garuba: Following an injury-plagued rookie season, Garuba could offer some frontcourt depth with physical defense if he stays healthy.


25.0 — The Rockets allowed 25.0 points per game in transition. That was the highest opponent mark in 18 seasons of Synergy tracking.

— John Schuhmann


Season W L PCT OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank Playoffs
2021-22 20 62 0.244 108.1 26 116.4 30 -8.3 29
2020-21 17 55 0.236 107.0 27 114.4 27 -7.4 27
2019-20 44 28 0.611 112.5 6 109.8 15 +2.7 7 X
2018-19 53 29 0.646 114.9 2 110.1 17 +4.8 5 X
2017-18 65 17 0.793 114.1 1 105.7 7 +8.4 1 X

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

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Mark Medina is a senior writer/analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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