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Houston Rockets fantasy basketball season recap

Previous team recapsDETWASPORCHASASTORMEMUTABKNATL, CHI

At a glance:

Record: 41-41 (11th, West) 

Offensive Rating: 113.7 (20th)

Defensive Rating: 112.8 (10th) 

Net Rating: 0.9 (18th) 

Pace: 99.59 (13th) 

2024 Draft Picks: 3, 44

After three straight seasons at the bottom, Houston was back to playing competitive basketball this season. They finished with a .500 record, which was five games out of the Play-In Tournament in the uber-talented Western Conference. They had an 11-game winning streak in March that brought them right into the mix for the final Play-In spot, but they followed that up with a five-game losing streak, which destroyed any chance of making the postseason. Still, the moves they made in the summer clearly benefited the team. They hired Ime Udoka and signed Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks in free agency. Combining that with developing stars made Houston a competitive team, however, it takes a lot more than that to make the playoffs in the West.

They should feel hopeful moving forward. They landed the No. 3 pick, which was one of the firsts that they acquired when shipping James Harden to Brooklyn. Along with plenty of other young studs, the Rockets can either add to their talented roster, or package players for a star. They’ve already been linked to Donovan Mitchell, and they reportedly had prepared a package for Mikal Bridges at the trade deadline. Don’t be surprised if the Rockets are aggressive this summer, and they have the assets to do so. There were multiple aging teams ahead of them in the standings, and if things go their way, Houston could leap a few of them and bring playoff basketball back to H-Town.

Fantasy Standout: Fred VanVleet

After spending the first seven years of his career in Toronto, VanVleet got a massive payday to move down to Houston and help change the culture of the Rockets. He was a big part of why the team had its best season since James Harden forced his way out of town. He’s now on the wrong side of 30, but he still has a few good years left in him.

FVV provided top-25 value for the fifth straight season in 9-cat leagues, and his numbers didn’t change much despite the change of scenery. He averaged 17.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks and 3.1 triples in 36.8 minutes per game. He suited up for 73 games, which was the most that he has played since he became a full-time starter. His steals took a slight dip, but his blocks also went up a little. Many of his blocks came on swipe downs that could have resulted in steals, and that corrected itself in the second half of the season. VanVleet’s shot attempts and points went down a bit, but he made up for it by setting a new career-high for assists. FVV is the veteran on a young team, and he should continue to be an elite fantasy asset for at least a few more seasons.

Fantasy Revelation: Alperen Sengun

Sengun showed plenty of flashes in his first two seasons, but he took another step forward in year three. His scoring jumped from 14.8 points to 21.1 per game, and he also added 9.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.7 blocks and 0.5 triples while shooting 53.7% from the floor and 69.3% from the line. He had his fair share of struggles this year, which led to him being benched a few times. However, there were games where everything seemed to click for him, and his upside was on full display.

Just before an ankle injury sidelined him for the final month of the season, Sengun had a few big games, including one with 45 points and 16 rebounds, and another with 23 points, 19 rebounds and 14 assists. That type of well-rounded production from a center is what helped him earn the nickname Baby Jokic, and if he can get anywhere close to replicating the production of a three-time MVP, he’s going to be an elite fantasy option for years to come. He is easily the most valuable dynasty asset in Houston, and he should be considered a top-20 player in dynasty formats.

Fantasy Disappointment: Tari Eason

Eason played well when he was on the court, which is what made his season even more disappointing. He was expected to miss the first few weeks of the season, but he only ended up playing 22 games, and he didn’t play after January 1st. When he did suit up, he was on a pretty strict minutes restriction for the first month, which means we only got about 10 productive games from him.

However, that was an elite stretch for Eason. He played 26.2 minutes per game during those 10 games and averaged 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 2.6 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.0 triple, which was top-50 production in 9-cat leagues during that time. He didn’t start at all, but he was still a top-100 player over the course of the season in just 21.8 minutes per game. Assuming he’s healthy, Eason will likely play a large reserve role next season and be an elite fantasy option in category leagues. He’ll certainly have a chance to lead the league in steals if he plays enough minutes.

Fantasy Recaps/Look-Aheads 

Jabari Smith Jr.:

After a solid rookie season, Smith made major improvements in year two. He averaged 13.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.8 triples while shooting 45.4% from the floor, 81.1% from the free throw line and 36.3% from beyond the arc. His minutes only jumped from 31.0 to 31.9, but aside from blocks, he improved in every category. Smith even slightly improved on his turnovers by going from 1.3 to 1.2 per game. He didn’t make any major leaps, but he did take at least a small step forward across the board. If he can make a big leap in at least one or two categories next season, he’ll move into the elite tier of dynasty assets. He may not see his usage go up with the amount of talent around him, but he can improve on his efficiency, rebounding and defensive production.

Amen Thompson: 

The Rockets made Thompson the fourth pick in the draft last summer, though his career didn’t get off to the best start. After not producing much in their first four games, he missed 19 of their next 20 games. With VanVleet running point, Thompson was stuck in a reserve role for most of the season, though various injuries allowed him to start the final month of the season. In 23 starts, he averaged 13.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Due to the amount of talent they have, Thompson may be a year or two away from being a full-time starter. However, when that happens, he’s going to be elite in fantasy hoops.

Jalen Green:

It was another frustrating fantasy season for Green. He didn’t improve on his shooting percentages, and his scoring took a slight dip, which was expected with the additions that they made. However, it wasn’t all bad, which is what made it frustrating. During their 11-game winning streak, Green was one of the best players in fantasy basketball and was putting up elite numbers every night. He scored at least 25 points in eight straight games and had two 40-point games during that stretch. He also played in all 82 games, which is always a nice boost in fantasy. Green has all the upside in the world, but he’ll continue to be an iffy fantasy option until he can play to the level that he is capable of for more than a few weeks at the end of the season.

Cam Whitmore:

The projected top-five pick slid to Houston at 20 on draft night, which was quite the surprise to fans across the league. However, he showcased the offensive firepower that had him in conversations for an early pick and averaged 12.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 triples per game as a rookie. Whitmore certainly has a high ceiling, which he displayed this season. Still, he’s going to have to improve as a playmaker if he wants to become a full-time starter in the league. It was an excellent first year in the league, and it is clear that the Rockets got one of the steals of the draft.

Dillon Brooks:

Brooks signed with the Rockets this summer and immediately accepted a smaller role on the offensive end, which is something that Memphis fans had been begging him to do for years. His usage rate of 17.6 was the lowest of his career, and it was a massive dropoff from 28.9 two seasons ago. However, his shooting efficiency did improve from the previous season, which allowed him to finish in the top-200 in 9-cat leagues. Brooks isn’t an exciting fantasy option, but he should continue to be an important part of their rotation moving forward, since he is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league.

Restricted Free Agents: Jermain Samuels, Jeenathan Williams, Nate Hinton

Unrestricted Free Agents: Reggie Bullock, Aaron Holiday, Boban Marjanovic

Team Options: Jeff Green, Jae’Sean Tate