SLAM x Panini Rookie Highlight: Rockets’ Josh Christopher

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It looks as if 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. 

Again then, in 2019, Mayfair head coach Tony Davis mentioned this about Christopher: “He’s undoubtedly very charismatic, and as a basketball participant he’s at all times had a degree of confidence that’s uncommon. I believe that’s one factor that helps separate him—he has an timeless perception of his skills and also you don’t see that in youngsters.”

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

At 6-3, with spectacular athleticism, versatility and playmaking abilities, Christopher grew to become a five-star recruit and top-12 prospect in his class. As he advised SLAM in 2019, when he was on the quilt of the journal alongside fellow HS superstars Jalen Inexperienced and Sharife Cooper, he additionally possesses the starvation to be nice. “I believe folks don’t understand how a lot I really like basketball,” he mentioned. “I believe 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 an entire lot of labor.

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

Christopher spent one season at Arizona State (he was the highest-rated commit in class historical past), averaging 14.3 factors, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per recreation. The Rockets took him with the 24th general decide within the 2021 Draft, the place in addition they received Inexperienced, Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba. Christopher performed sparingly via 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 pair of.0 steals in three appearances.

In mid-December, Rockets head coach Stephen Silas began to present him extra minutes, and Christopher began to point out 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 towards the Cavaliers; 14 factors and three steals towards 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 naturally, he isn’t shy. 

He has an timeless perception in his skills.

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

We lately spent an “off-day” with Christopher. What we discovered is that he principally needs to be compelled to take them. “Actually, I’m so completely happy to be a rookie and play basketball—after I’m simply within the crib bored, I need to get within the health club,” he advised us. “So our teaching workers threatened to take all of my sneakers out of my locker final evening as a result of I mentioned I used to be coming again to the health club. Days off are cool however I like being within the health club. So days off—I’m completely happy to have them, however I may do with out them, too.”

As he advised USA Right now in February, “I’m all about outcomes. You may’t get outcomes in case you are not placing the work in. When your work pays off, it makes me need to do extra, truthfully. I’m hooked on getting higher. I simply need to preserve working.” 



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