The Houston Rockets officially finished the season 20-62, in a season that many would assume is forgettable. Houston has some building blocks for the future, and none of their young stars shine brighter than Jalen Green. Green ended the season with a 41-point outing on Sunday in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks. With the loss, Houston secured the best shot at a top pick and that their pick won’t fall out of the top five in the draft.
Being a Houston Rockets fan this year was all about the balance of hope and entertainment. Over the last few weeks, with an emphasis on the young lineups and the high-scoring basketball, the Rockets managed to accomplish both.
While we gave out our End of Season Awards for the Houston Rockets last week, the players were hardly the only part of the entertainment this season. #RocketsTwitter became a full-fledged force. The same Safe Spaces we mentioned on Rockets’ Round-Up to start the season? Those have only grown. The guys who run them? They’ve branched out to begin their own project: Clutch City Control Room.
In a season where the Rockets could have envied the wins, All-Stars, and finished products of other franchises, many turned their heads and studied what was happening in Houston. It wasn’t uncommon to see multiple large, team-specific outlets in a Rockets’ Safe Space. Slogans like “the vibes are immaculate,” popularized by Houston Rocket fan Zeke, became a league-wide catchphrase.
Unlike the vitriol of “Dub Nation” Twitter, or the toxicity of “Lake Show” Twitter, Rockets’ twitter truly became a special place to talk about the ‘kets with fans from all over the globe. Was there the occasional bad apple? We learned, organically, that every fan base has its contrarians. But on the whole, Houston Rockets Twitter and spaces were a combination of venting about losses, analyzing the games past and present, and setting eyes on the future.
If that was “the game,” who were the players? And who was deserving of what awards?
Rookie of the Year
Ok, this is admittedly pushing a Twitter handle into the “rookie” box. But, BradeauxNBA was created in May of 2021 and, by baseball rules, this year is his rookie season. Brad is far from a rookie… but on the whole, in his first full calendar year of professional NBA coverage, Brad had as good a “rookie” campaign as anyone could ask for.
He hit all the big checkmarks. Got the LeBron James retweet, got to meet and talk with the GM multiple times, and has regular back and forths with the Houston Rockets commentary team. Further, Brad even hit benchmarks no one would expect to have… like becoming the unofficial statistician of Rockets Twitter. Whenever you see a random Rockets stat tweeted out, or some unique accomplishment made by someone on the Rockets, check the handle. And if it isn’t Brad? Go check his account and the timestamps. Odds are they stole it from him.
Exec. of the Year
Roosh Williams, Houstonian and Hip Hop artist, is the Exec. of the Year because he is absolutely ruthless. Cross the Rockets? Roosh coming. Misconstrue stats and stories of old Houston glory days? Roosh coming. Have a take on Houston Rap other than 2009-2015 was an incredible run? Or that 2000 – 2006 was an incredible run? Or that 2006-2009 was an underrated run? Roosh coming. And when he gets there? With his tweets, Roosh will murder.
A master of the mic, both with rhymes and on pods, Roosh does not mince words. Exec. of the year because he fearlessly faces any number of foes, usually with a dagger as his last words. Who else could have won the RocketsTwitter Executioner of the Year?
(Wait, what do you mean that’s not what exec. means?)
Defensive Player of the Year
Houston Rockets’ twitter really was, relatively, a great place for fans. All outlooks got heard, and all analysis was weighed out evenly… for the most part. But, somehow, any malfeasance got placed squarely at the feet of one Don Knock.
Hollywood Don got stuck with the blame for much of the (few) misgivings of RocketsTwitter… and defended himself, his honor, and his brand at every turn. Adamant in his defense, Don is quick to pull receipts, quotes, or stats to prove his innocence.
Say what you want about his defense, even if he’ll say you’re wrong, but no one plays more defense on Rockets Twitter than Don. Think of Don as the type of DPOY that protects the rim like Dikembe Mutumbo and switches along the perimeter like Kawhi Leonard. No one scores on Hollywood Don.
Coach of the Year
Houston’s PodFather himself, Jackson Gatlin. You’ve probably heard Jackson’s questions in post-game presser clips, or on Locked On Rockets, or on his latest project State of the Rockets with Exec of the Year Roosh… but wherever you’ve heard him, you understood immediately “this guy will be covering the Rockets for a long, long time.” As on of Houston’s own, Jackson has worked his way up the ladder from project to project while being continuously focused on talking Houston Rockets hoops nightly.
Gatlin gets “Coach of the Year” honors because he’s helped orchestrate the biggest shift in Rockets coverage this season. As #RocketsTwitter has grown, so has the Gatlin brand. As both the “squirrely youngin’” and the “wily veteran,” Gatlin is the guy in his 20s building the media empire that is Clutch City Control Room. He is both the face of the next generation of Rockets coverage and the maestro pulling next season’s local content creation together. Think of Jackson as a player-coach, a la Bill Russell.
Sixth Man of the Year
Zeke, who is a Houston guy, describes himself as the Vibes Meteorologist. Zeke runs the Twitter account for The Dream Shake, where he is always sure to tell you about how immaculate the vibes are. He will always shell out Rockets content and is one of the unofficial Rockets Twitter aggregators.
Where Zeke wins Sixth Man of the Year is in his ability to tap into other groups. As a member of The Dream Shake, Zeke manages to still be featured in Summit State of Mind, the occasional LaunchPad, and most notably running a Rockets Twitter Safe Space. Crossing network lines? How’s that for coming in off the bench?
Most Improved Player
A year ago, a red Sonic the Hedgehog account known as u/_ProdiG_ was running amok on Twitter. Defending the Rockets at every turn, this Redditor turned tweeter was growing in popularity and helping run things like the Twitter spaces, orchestrating group chats to talk Rockets hoops, and throwing out fake trades that were just realistic enough that made you wonder if he was trolling. Hailing from Portugal, “Prod” was one of the biggest international Rockets fans there was. He lived, breathed, and dreamed Houston Rockets basketball… not that he slept much.
Then, in January, the game changed. Paulo Alves announced his true identity to the world in early January of 2022. In doing so, he also officially became a Houston Rockets podcaster. Then, he worked his way into a regular Apollo contributor before breaking off with the Clutch City Control Room gang. Now?
He’s perhaps the most famous feel-good story NBA Twitter has ever had. Rockets fans organized a GoFundMe that helped Paulo, who had never been on a plane before, all the way to Houston for the last weekend of the Rockets season. He got to see a 41-piece in person, meet decision-makers in the Houston Rockets front offices, and witness the city and culture he blindly defended from 4,800 miles away.
I’ll reiterate- in December, Paulo was a Sonic hedgehog profile picture who came from Reddit and still had a “u/“ in his username. Today? He’s a certified Houston Rockets content creator who has met the team’s brass.
Is it possible for the MVP to be the glue guy? Willamages to balance unapologetic fandom and analysis in a way that makes him the clear-cut MVP here, but truthfully he appears to be more willing to throw his teammates dimes than jack up a bunch of shots himself. They say a rising tide lifts all boats. Will? He seems to think all of Rockets Twitter should have a boat.
While the aforementioned tide and boats feel more like Noah and an Arc for the Rockets these days, Will manages to walk one line better than anyone on Rockets Twitter. The Houston Rockets signed a guy named Christian Wood just before completely stripping the team down to rebuild it. Then the All-Stars left, and Wood was surrounded on both sides by aging veterans or fresh-faced rooks. Clearly, this middle ground was right where Will sought to stake his fandom.
Will is as big of a Christian Wood fan as there is, outside of Wood’s mama, on this Earth. But he also will set that aside when talking through rebuilding strategies… but won’t just throw Wood away for next to nothing. On the whole, while Will also hosts spaces and also hosts podcasts and also aggregates Rockets info… his combination of rational and irrational fandom makes him the MVP. He is the glue that bonds Wood fans and veteran fans with the “blow it all up” contingent.
All-Rockets Twitter Teams
Note: to spread the wealth amongst some of the best fans in sports, winning an award disqualifies you from being on one of these teams… even if that’s not how the actual All-NBA teams work.
Hall of Fame inductees
To ALL of #RocketsTwitter, thank you for another fun season. Truly a special place to celebrate, lament, and analyze with a unique fan base.
On to the draft.