SLAM x Panini Rookie Spotlight: Rockets’ Josh Christopher

SLAM x Panini Rookie Spotlight: Rockets’ Josh Christopher

It looks like simply yesterday that we have been following Josh Christopher round Lakewood, California—across the neighborhood and the highschool (Mayfair) the place he rose to prominence. 

Back then, in 2019, Mayfair head coach Tony Davis mentioned this about Christopher: “He’s definitely very charismatic, and as a basketball player he’s always had a level of confidence that is rare. I think that’s one thing that helps separate him—he has an undying belief of his abilities and you don’t see that in teenagers.”

He has an timeless perception in his skills. Spend any time round Christopher and that turns into apparent. The extraordinarily proficient guard additionally simply oozes confidence. It made Davis a believer. It made SLAM a believer. It made anybody listening to highschool hoops a believer. 

At 6-3, with spectacular athleticism, versatility and playmaking abilities, Christopher turned a five-star recruit and top-12 prospect in his class. As he instructed SLAM in 2019, when he was on the duvet of the journal alongside fellow HS superstars Jalen Green and Sharife Cooper, he additionally possesses the starvation to be nice. “I think people don’t realize how much I love basketball,” he mentioned. “I feel that they suppose I’m utilizing basketball as a option to do different issues and never as a result of I like the sport. They don’t see—I put in numerous work. I put in a complete lot of labor.

“I watch basketball. I know basketball. Basketball is my life.”

Christopher spent one season at Arizona State (he was the highest-rated commit at school historical past), averaging 14.3 factors, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per recreation. The Rockets took him with the 24th total choose within the 2021 Draft, the place additionally they acquired Green, Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba. Christopher performed sparingly by way of the primary few months of the season, spending a while within the G League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, averaging 22 factors, 6.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists and a couple of.0 steals in three appearances.

In mid-December, Rockets head coach Stephen Silas began to provide him extra minutes, and Christopher began to indicate flashes of his potential: 18 factors on 7/7 from the sector and 4/4 from three in a win over the Nets; 17 factors and 4 assists in opposition to the Cavaliers; 14 factors and three steals in opposition to the Lakers. His perimeter taking pictures has been up and down, however the Cali native has at all times been capable of finding methods to attain. He assaults the rim fearlessly, pulls up for little midrange jumpers within the paint and pushes it in transition. His shiftiness and handles make him a troublesome cowl one-on-one. He likes to placed on a present (see right here). And in fact, he isn’t shy. 

He has an timeless perception in his skills.

The metropolis of Houston is studying increasingly more about these skills. Silas is trying towards the long run and unleashing his rookies. Christopher is averaging 9.9 factors on 46 p.c taking pictures from the sector up to now in March. He notched double figures in 4 straight outings, together with a 21-point efficiency (in simply 22 minutes) in an extra time victory over the Lakers final Wednesday. He additionally stuffed the stat sheet when the Rockets visited the Heat on March 7: 16 factors, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. 

We just lately spent an “off-day” with Christopher. What we discovered is that he principally must be pressured to take them. “Honestly, I’m so happy to be a rookie and play basketball—when I’m just in the crib bored, I want to get in the gym,” he instructed us. “So our coaching staff threatened to take all of my shoes out of my locker last night because I said I was coming back to the gym. Days off are cool but I like being in the gym. So days off—I’m happy to have them, but I could do without them, too.”

As he instructed USA Today in February, “I am all about results. You can’t get results if you are not putting the work in. When your work pays off, it makes me want to do more, honestly. I am addicted to getting better. I just have to keep working.” 

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