Sport Jae'Sean Tate Rockets from Sydney Kings to NBA starter
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In less than a year, Jae'Sean Tate has gone from a star import with the Sydney Kings to a starting forward for the NBA's Houston Rockets.
The 25-year-old Ohio native's rapid rise was not a surprise to those who followed his All-NBL first team season with the Kings where he repeatedly proved a match-winner.
Tate admits that 17 games into his NBA career, he still finds himself stunned at how far he has come considering this time last year he was preparing for the NBL semi-finals.
"It's still a dream," Tate said.
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"I still wake up every day and just take in the fact that I'm here, I'm playing good minutes and building great chemistry. We are putting together some wins as well.
"All the work that I've done over my career to get to this point - I'm just taking this in."
Tate isn't alone in making the leap from the Kings to the Rockets, with former Kings coach Will Weaver hired as an assistant coach. Weaver was promoting Tate's NBA claims last season and the pair still talk daily as they adjust to the big league.
"Me and coach Will talk every day," Tate said. "He is my development guy and my pre-game guy. We are very close. It's always easier to come into an unknown environment with someone you know."
Tate has won over new Rockets coach Stephen Silas in a campaign that has seen great upheaval with superstars Russell Westbrook and James Harden both traded and new players replacing them.
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Since Harden's trade, the Rockets have won four straight games and Tate has started seven of their last eight games including those four wins.
Fans have also enjoyed his variety of contributions, from dunking on Denver star Nikola Jokic in late December to becoming the first Rocket since Robert Horry in 1992-1993 to get three steals and three blocks in a game earlier this month.
"He's trustworthy. He makes the right plays, makes the right reads. He's usually in the right spot on both ends of the floor," Silas told media before their win over Portland on Friday (AEDT).
"He's a good rebounder on both ends. You just like to have people on the floor you can trust, and you know what you're going to get from them, and he's one of those guys."
A few years ago, the thought of a 193-centimetre, powerfully built player like Tate as an NBA starter was almost unthinkable, but he has ridden a wave created by the success of Golden State's Draymond Green and Houston teammate PJ Tucker, who guard taller players through their strength and smarts.
Kings reign over Taipans in NBL
The Sydney Kings have registered their first win of the 2021 NBL season with a 99-91 victory over the Taipans in Cairns on Saturday night.Still smarting from a controversial one-point loss to Cairns last week, imports Casper Ware and Jarell Martin inspired a victory that will no doubt be remembered by the Kings for some time.
"It was kind of luck that the NBA was starting to get smaller the last couple of years," Tate said.
"Draymond, PJ, guys like that, have opened doors for me and shown that smaller, but stronger basketball players can be productive on the defensive and offensive end.
"I fit that mould and the NBA trended in that direction. I have just tried to make the most of the opportunity."
Tate was quick to praise the NBL for preparing him for day-to-day NBA life.
"The way Sydney runs their organisation is very similar to the NBA," Tate said.
"Whether you are talking about how they do our [recovery] treatment, even the style of play from our team last year. We brought a whole new style to the NBL, a style you see a lot in the NBA.
"Having that offensive consistency helped me when I got to this point because I didn't have to learn as much. The NBL has former and future NBA stars and playing at a high level like that really helped me to come over to the big stage."
Tate is still adjusting to the demands of preparing for a game "every other night" while his family has enjoyed not having to wake up in the early hours to watch him play in Australia.
He hopes to add a few more highlights to a dream season.
"Hopefully I can make some more as we have a lot of games left," Tate said.
Sunday, Feb. 7 – NBA scores, updates, news, stats, highlights and top fantasy performers .
There are 11 games of NBA action with plenty of must-see matchups such as Zion Williamson versus Ja Morant and Luka Doncic versus Stephen Curry.We'll have you covered with live updates, highlights and more throughout the night.