Rockets GM Rafael Stone draws second-place NBA Executive of the Year prediction

By any objective measures, 2023-24 was a very successful season for the young and rebuilding Houston Rockets.

After averaging fewer than 20 wins per season over the previous three years, the Rockets (41-41) became just the 10th NBA team in history — and the fifth in the last 30 years — to immediately follow up a season with 60 or more losses with a non-losing season.

General manager Rafael Stone played a key role. In the preceding offseason, Stone hired Ime Udoka as head coach; drafted promising rookies Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore in the first round; and signed an impactful free agency class featuring Fred VanVleet, Dillon Brooks, Jeff Green, Aaron Holiday, and Jock Landale.

Given that, Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes predicts Stone to finish second (behind Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics, who own the league’s best record) in 2024 NBA Executive of the Year voting.

His analysis:

It’s worth wondering whether Stone deserves a demerit for making a huge offer to Brook Lopez that the veteran center walked away from. If that deal had been consummated, Alperen Şengün might not have broken out in a larger role, and much may have been different for the Rockets.

With that said, Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks were shrewd signings who brought experience and toughness, redefining the Rockets overnight. Perhaps even more critical in shedding Houston’s loose and unserious image of the last three years: new head coach Ime Udoka.

Throw in Amen Thompson at No. 4 and Cam Whitmore at No. 20 in the draft, and Stone nailed the signing, drafting, and hiring trifecta.

Hughes’ complete awards prediction piece can be read here, and it lists three other Rockets as being “worth a mention” in 2023-24 awards voting. Those are Udoka for Coach of the Year; Thompson for Rookie of the Year; and Sengun for Most Improved Player.

Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire