The Rockets plan to exercise their third-year team options on all four of their 2021 first-round draft picks, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). The four players, whose salaries are set to be guaranteed for 2023/24, are Jalen Green ($9,891,480), Alperen Sengun ($3,536,280), Usman Garuba ($2,588,400) and Josh Christopher ($2,485,200).
As Feigen writes, it’s normally a formality that teams pick up the rookie scale options after first-rounders have played one season, but exercising Garuba’s after an injury-played campaign limited him to 24 appearances in ’21/22 was a little less certain. However, the No. 23 overall pick of 2021 had a strong offseason and training camp and showcased solid play at EuroBasket, helping Spain win the gold medal, Feigen notes.
Green, the No. 2 overall pick last year, averaged 17.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 2.6 APG on .426/.343/.797 shooting in 67 games (31.9 MPG). The 20-year-old had a slow start in ’21/22 but an excellent second half, averaging 22.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG and 3.2 APG on .476/.387/.756 shooting in 24 games (34.6 MPG) after the All-Star break. He was named to the All-Rookie First Team.
Sengun, who is set to become a full-time starter in ’22/23, had a productive rookie season on a per-minute basis but struggled with fouls, which is typical for young big men. The Turkish center averaged 9.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.8 SPG and 0.9 BPG on .474/.258/.711 shooting in 72 games (13 starts, 20.7 MPG). He was the No. 16 overall selection.
Christopher, the No. 24 overall pick of last year’s draft, also had a solid rookie campaign, averaging 7.9 PPG, 2.5 RPG and 2.0 APG on .448/.296/.735 shooting in 74 games (18.0 MPG). The combo guard is looking to improve as a decision-maker entering year two.