Head Coach Ime Udoka Discusses Houston Rockets’ Future, Culture Shift, and Coaching Young Players in Interview with The Athletic

Head Coach Ime Udoka Discusses Houston Rockets' Future, Culture Shift, and Coaching Young Players in Interview with The Athletic




The Houston Rockets, a team that is facing the possibility of missing the playoffs this season, appears to have a promising future under the guidance of their head coach, Ime Udoka. The success timeline of the team heavily relies on Udoka’s ability to transform the team’s culture. Udoka recently engaged in an interview with The Athletic, where he discussed various aspects of his job, including coaching strategies, working with budding players like Alperen Şengün and Jalen Green, and his personal growth as a coach.

Udoka understands that the Rockets’ road to success will not happen overnight, particularly with a young and inexperienced roster. He recognizes the importance of instilling good habits in these players that will benefit them throughout their careers. Coaching veteran teams is a daunting task, but coaching young players requires even more patience and time. The Rockets have six first-round picks over the past three years, indicating the team’s focus on nurturing these young players.

Should the Rockets fail to make the postseason, Udoka believes that it will provide an opportunity for the team to learn valuable lessons. He emphasizes the importance of avoiding the same mistakes and highlights the close games the team could have won. Despite their struggles, Udoka remains optimistic about the team’s future, highlighting the potential that they have shown.

One of the reasons behind the Rockets’ inconsistency on the offensive end is their struggles with shooting. Udoka acknowledges that their shooting performance has declined in the second half of the season compared to the first half. Additionally, players have had to adjust to different roles within the team, which requires time and adaptation.

Concerning offensive principles, Udoka has introduced certain sets from his time in Boston, but the Rockets’ personnel has necessitated some adjustments. The presence of a low-post scorer like Şengün has changed the dynamics of the offense. Udoka has focused on minimizing the offensive playbook to accommodate the team’s growth and avoid overwhelming the young players.

Working with Alperen Şengün has been a fantastic experience for Udoka. He appreciates Şengün’s unique skills and versatility, especially his passing ability. Udoka believes that once Şengün’s shooting improves, it will open up more opportunities for him and the team. The challenge lies in adapting to how opposing teams defend him and finding ways to put him in more favorable positions.

In his recent interview, Udoka, the coach of the Houston Rockets basketball team, expressed his thoughts on the team’s current situation, future prospects, and his philosophy on various aspects of the game.

Udoka aims to strike a balance between an equal opportunity offense and playing through the talented Şengün. He acknowledges the value of Şengün’s exceptional passing ability and the attention he draws from the defense, and by making quick reads and playing off his strengths, the team can initiate offense effectively and maintain a team-oriented approach.

Udoka also highlighted the importance of Fred VanVleet’s leadership and on-court organization, which has been crucial for the Rockets. He recognizes VanVleet’s scoring ability while also acknowledging his skills in creating opportunities for others. The team relies on VanVleet to make the right decisions based on the defense’s actions. Udoka also wants to develop other players who can initiate the offense, allowing VanVleet to play off the ball as well.

Jalen Green’s growth has been a topic of discussion for Udoka, and he emphasized the importance of Green learning to read the game and understand how the defense is playing him. Udoka wants Green to become more efficient in his decision-making and contribute to the team’s overall success. The conversations with Green revolve around staying confident, improving as a player, and making the right reads on the court.

The Rockets have several rookies on their roster, and Udoka is impressed with their competitiveness, athleticism, and versatility. Each rookie has different areas to focus on for improvement. For Amen Thompson, shooting is a key aspect that will set him apart. Cam Whitmore needs to improve defensively and make better decisions offensively. Udoka is coaching them hard to instill good habits and avoid repeating past mistakes.

Coaching a team with many young players has been a unique experience for Udoka, and he draws on his experiences with young players in Portland and Sacramento. His coaching style remains intense and demanding, and he expects the players to grow and learn from it. Udoka understands that everyone progresses at different rates and emphasizes the importance of patience.

Udoka’s philosophy on spacing revolves around reducing turnovers and improving shot selection. The team aims to increase the pace of play, especially with their young roster. Udoka acknowledges the need for balance between playing fast in transition and executing effectively in the half-court. The team is working on improving their transition offense and finding the right pace that suits their playing style.

Udoka’s interview provides valuable insight into the Houston Rockets’ current situation and their future prospects. His focus on player development and culture shift bodes well for the team’s trajectory. Despite the challenges they face, the Rockets remain optimistic and determined to improve.