San Antonio and Houston certainly can’t boast about their previous season. Both of these teams were at the bottom and showed very lackluster performance. During the offseason, these teams underwent significant changes and now look much more interesting. Some even believe they can contend for a playoff spot.
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In this material, we will discuss the current state of the Spurs and the Rockets and attempt to assess their prospects.
Lately, top draft picks didn’t bring an atmosphere of renewal and potential to their teams, but Victor Wembanyama managed to reintroduce that vibe to the league in general and to San Antonio in particular.
The hype around the French big man is truly incomparable to the top picks of recent years. Murals are dedicated to him in San Antonio, he is already known and loved, and great expectations are placed on him. Wembanyama is seen as the leader of San Antonio’s revival – a team that consistently competes for championships, regularly reaches the finals, and wins titles.
If the main task for the previous season for the Spurs was to fall low enough for Victor Wembanyama to fall to them, the task now is to properly integrate him into the NBA and develop him to start delivering the expected results as quickly as possible. San Antonio has a fairly young team where nobody will claim the role of the primary option or question Victor’s authority. In such an environment, it is easy to unleash talents and showcase skills.
Furthermore, despite all the concerns, Gregg Popovich remains with the team (it seems he has signed a 5-year contract in the summer), making him a symbol of the legendary San Antonio Spurs. He can pass on not only knowledge but also the spirit to the new, young team.
Wembanyama himself doesn’t hide that he wants to make the playoffs in his first season. He considers it a challenging but realistic goal.
Ask yourself, how many Houston Rockets games did you watch last season? If you’re not a Rockets fan, it’s likely zero. Any official broadcaster with the basic rights package provided by the NBA didn’t show any of this team’s matches. It’s not a worldwide conspiracy, but harsh reality: the club was so bad last year that the league didn’t even offer to broadcast its games as part of the basic subscription. In fact, the status of Stephen Silas’s team confirmed this, as it became one of the worst in the NBA last season by all key parameters.
In the offseason, the Rockets underwent significant, if not the most significant, changes in the entire NBA. First, they hired head coach Ime Udoka, who, in his debut (and so far only) season in this status, reached the NBA Finals with Boston.
Second, they signed Fred VanVleet, who struggled for a long time to find a new team in Toronto, taking on an experienced player with championship experience who could calm and even teach something to all these young players gathered in Houston.
Third, they signed Dillon Brooks. Yes, people may have mixed feelings about him, but to deny the fact that the Rockets, somewhat unknowingly, have significantly raised interest in themselves and their games is simply irrational. Brooks came to Houston as a good defender who managed to get under the skin of Draymond and LeBron and exited the playoffs with Memphis. The Rockets signed Dillon to a $80 million contract for four years, which seemed like a significant overpayment. Now, a bronze medalist of the World Championship will join the team, who managed to clash with even more superstars, prevent the USA from winning medals at the World Cup, and significantly increase his media visibility, albeit through not the best or most humane methods.
We can add a good job in the draft, and it’s clear that the Rockets have become much better, at least on paper. Now there’s someone to play the point, someone to defend, and it will look nothing like the chaotic basketball of a young team. The main question and intrigue of the season are how much this upgrade will affect the team’s results and whether the rejuvenated Houston can at least compete for a playoff spot.