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Houston could trade ultra-premium prospects to reach PO

Houston has a venomous appetite for playoffs.

The Athletic, a local U.S. media outlet, reported on the Houston Rockets’ trade market situation on January 1 (KST). According to the report, “Houston is looking to bolster its roster with a star player. They’re ready to trade prospects to do so.”

In other news, the Rockets’ only untradeable player is starting center Al-Farouq Sengoun. Sengun has developed into an All-Star caliber big man, averaging 21.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists this season, and is the spearhead of the Houston offense. Sen is the present, not the future, for the Rockets. The Rockets are right to not trade him.

He added that the prospects he’s reluctant to trade are Cam Whitmore, Amen Thompson, Tariq Eason, and Jabari Smith Jr. Whitmore and Thompson were selected in the 2023 NBA Draft and have been in the NBA for less than a year.

Eason and Smith are both trusted players under head coach Ime Udoka. They are both long, defensive-minded forwards who fit the mold of modern basketball. There’s no reason to trade either player unless it’s for a high price.

There’s one player missing from that list. That’s Jaylen Green. Green was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. He was touted as the new face of Houston’s franchise after the departure of James Harden. Expectations were higher for Green than any of the prospects mentioned above.

Green showed promise last season, averaging 22.1 points per game, but his efficiency plummeted once Udoka was hired and the team started playing team basketball instead of individualized.

This season, Green averaged just 18.4 points and 4.9 rebounds.

Green’s weakness is his defense. Green’s defense has been a serious problem this season. When he’s on the court, opposing teams focus on him.

Udoka is known for his emphasis on defense. During his time with the Boston Celtics, he transformed them into one of the best defenses in the NBA and led them to the NBA Finals. Udoka’s style of basketball doesn’t mesh well with Green’s emphasis on scoring and weak defense.

Green is also in a different position now than he was when he joined the Rockets. When Green joined the Rockets, they had no one to count on. But now, the Rockets have the likes of Senegal, Smith, Eason, and Whitmore, as well as veterans like Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks.

That doesn’t make it easy to give up on Green. Green is one of the most valuable players in the NBA, capable of averaging over 20 points per game. His weaknesses on defense are obvious, but he’s still a young player (he was born in 2002) and has a lot of potential. If the Rockets were to trade Green and he explodes as a rookie, they would face a lot of criticism.

It’s clear that the Rockets will be on the trade market. The question is, who will it be?

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