The Houston Rockets began their training camp in Lake Charles at Mcneese State Legacy Center today. This was the first time the entire team was on the court together, as the Rockets welcomed several new players and, of course, a new coaching staff led by Ime Udoka. Coach Udoka, Jabari Smith, and Aaron Holiday spoke to the media.
Alperen Sengun was performing individual drills, and Jock Landale was rehabbing his ankle, so we didn't see either participate in the scrimmage. At least the last part of the practice. We were able to watch the last 10 minutes of practice and immediately witnessed two great plays.
The first was a huge block by Jermaine Samuels on a Tari Eason dunk attempt that brought the gym to life. The second was a poster dunk by Jabari Smith on Tari Eason on the other end. Smith Jr. showed a lot of aggression on the dunk as he went way above the rim.
Jabari just put Tari on a poster pic.twitter.com/0Ml7ihw6vf— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) October 3, 2023
Another thing that stood out was the communication on the court between players on offense and defense. I asked Coach Udoka what he heard from his team on the court.
He said, "We want to be a louder group. Coach Udoka continued, "To be a great defense and offense group, you have to talk to each other."
Like I said earlier you could hear the players communicating with each other before you even enter the arena. I asked Coach Udoka about that communication pic.twitter.com/hODLRbR97u— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) October 3, 2023
The communication between the players on the court was evident as soon as I walked into the gym. You could hear everyone talking on both sides, specifically VanVleet, who was in charge of the offense. It's no surprise that VanVleet was the one to mention that during the film session.
Smith Jr. also spoke to the media, and you can tell immediately that his confidence is at an all-time high. I asked Jabari Smith if he wanted to work on anything particular during training camp.
"I would just say establish what my role is going to be. Establish what we are going to be. Establish how I can affect winning."
I asked Jabari if there is anything part of his game he is focusing on during training camp. pic.twitter.com/nQADCdV548— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) October 3, 2023
The last part shows a maturity from Smith Jr.. His primary focus is on winning and whatever he needs to do to build that winning culture in Houston. A common theme from yesterday and today has been building a winning culture. It starts today with the first day of Rockets Training Camp and continues tomorrow.
Another noticeable thing from today was the Rockets all lining up on the baseline and then taking turns shooting free throws to end the practice. For each miss, the entire team had to run, and when they did run, Jalen Green was usually the one crossing the line first.
I will be out at the following two practices and bring you all the latest from Lake Charles. Make sure to follow me at @BinkleyHoops on Twitter for all the latest.