4 lottery teams guaranteed to make the NBA playoffs in 2024–25

Washington Wizards v Houston Rockets
Washington Wizards v Houston Rockets / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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3) Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets were supposed to turn the corner this season after several win-now moves from the franchise. Alas, the breakthrough was delayed another year, despite plenty of positives coming out of the season.

There were many additions to work with this season, from veterans to rookies to coach Ime Udoka. The growing pains should propel the Rockets to old, more friendly heights in 2024-25.

The Rockets will likely be running it again with the same core next season. Jeff Green has a club option, but the next most important player who could depart is Jae 'Sean Tate, who also has a club option. Only Reggie Bullock, Aaron Holiday, and Boban Marjanovic are unrestricted free agents.

The most positive development out of H-Town this season has been the emergence of big man Alperen Sengun. Before a recent ankle injury, the center was making a serious run at Most Improved Player. Sengun solidified his stardom with a 45-point performance right before his injury.

The Rockets didn't flounder in the face of Sengun's absence, though. In fact, many of the team's important young players have stepped up to the plate. Jalen Green has been a dominant scorer since Sengun went down, finally fulfilling the expectations of a top draft pick. Amen Thompson has looked good, too.

Houston still needs to learn what they have in Green, Thompson, and Jabari Smith Jr. But they should be better next season, especially with Fred VanVleet back and Steven Adams in place as an insurance policy for Sengun.

This could also be entirely moot. The Rockets don't own their first-round draft pick this summer, which means they have no incentive to lose. Perhaps they'll keep pushing for the play-in and beyond.