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Rockets 2021-22 Schedule: Top Games, Championship Odds and Record Predictions

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2021

Houston Rockets center Christian Wood (35) reacts after a play during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Thursday, April 29, 2021, in Houston. (Troy Taormina/Pool Photo via AP)
Troy Taormina/Associated Press

The Houston Rockets are going to be bad this season. Very, very bad.

There's no nice way to put it, nor is there any alternative universe in which this team is any good. 

This, of course, is by design. The clock is already ticking on the Rockets' rebuild. They owe their first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 to the Oklahoma City Thunder (protected 1-4) for the ill-fated Russell Westbrook trade.

That gives Houston two more guaranteed cracks in the lottery before things get dicey. The Rockets hope they found their first cornerstone with Jalen Green, and they swung for the fences with Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher with their three other first-round picks.

Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. are already promising young players, so there's a real chance Houston is already cooking a fast-rebuild stew.

If we were living in a 2K world, the Rockets could be bad this season, throw some untapped potential badges on their young guys and be set for a loaded roster by 2024. 

Real life isn't 2K, though. Odds are at least two of Sengun, Garuba and Christopher will fail to develop into NBA contributors; that's just the nature of the league's top-heavy draft. Wood and Porter are promising but both have glaring flaws and personality conflicts with past teams.

Here's a look at what to expect from the Rockets this season.

            

2021-22 Houston Rockets Season Details

Season Opener: at Minnesota Timberwolves, Oct. 20, 8 p.m. ET

Championship Odds: +25000 (FanDuel)

Schedule: NBA.com

         

Top Matchups

Detroit Pistons

It's the No. 1 vs. the No. 2 pick. There's really not much more you need to say. Every year this matchup has a high level of intrigue because that's just the way things work.

That said, this particular matchup is a little more interesting given how hard the Rockets reportedly tried trading up to take Cade Cunningham. The implication here is that Houston brass felt so strongly about the 19-year-old being a better player than Green that it was willing to mortgage part of the haul the team received for James Harden to make the deal happen.

The Rockets may be very happy with Green, but make no mistake: They wanted Cunningham, badly.

That adds an extra little layer to the head-to-head battle here, which should be thrilling enough from straight basketball terms.

This should be one of the best matchups between bad teams we see all season.

         

Brooklyn Nets

We already got a glimpse of the mixed reaction Harden would receive from fans in March. It just wasn't a full arena reaction.

We'll get that when the Nets travel to Houston for a December 8 matchup that probably won't be watchable after the opening tip. The Nets are heavy title favorites and will probably skate to the Larry O'Brien Trophy if Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving stay healthy.

Do yourself a favor: Watch the first quarter or so for the Harden reactions and then flip over to another game when the blowout gets going.

           

Season Forecast

The Rockets aren't going to be good. 

They are, however, going to be very watchable. I would expect Houston to be at or near the top of the league in pace, and Green might immediately jump into the league as a 20-point scorer.

This is going to be a very watchable, yet very horrible team. There will probably be a couple of nights when opposing teams run up 140-150 points because there is no scenario in which this roster will find any coherence on defense.

Expect a lot of 135-120 losses.

Record Prediction: 22-60

   

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