Southwest Division Preview: Houston Rockets
Lucky I’m a slow typist and am unable to trim the fat from a good rant.
Had the season previews been shorter, then the Rockets’ write up may have been done before the season tipped off, and the biggest surprise in the month leading up to the season would have been left out.
As it stands now, I believe the James Harden trade is good for another 10-15 wins for the Rockets; he’s such a cerebral player who makes everyone better while not sacrificing his own numbers at the same time.
Along with Jeremy Lin, Harden forms a completely new back-court that has star potential, but it will have to deal with growing pains along the way. His first few games have been dynamic, as he and Lin form arguably the best young backcourt in the Western Conference.
Lin was penned as the Rockets’ saviour after the free agent saga which saw him leave New York in his wake. He is a natural floor leader who can both score and set up team-mates, and one whose intellect and desire to perform could never be questioned.
Sure, teams managed to figure him out after the first wave of Linsanity hit, but he is still a more than capable point guard, and the addition of Harden will aid his development by easing the spotlight shining on him constantly.
Up front the team signed another unproven commodity, at least in terms of starting and playing 30+ minutes a game in Omer Asik.
Asik was a top defensive reserve center for the Bulls over the past two seasons, and his rebounding exploits and shot-blocking abilities will remind fans of Ben Wallace, but wearing a Judge Reinhold mask. His incredible lack of any scoring touch around the basket has been evident early, as he has failed to finish even the easiest layups and put-backs.
Next to him is Patrick ‘2Pat’ Patterson who worked hard in the offseason to refine his offensive game, even stretching his range out to the three point line – whether he continues to keep taking them could be determined by coach Kevin McHale. Patterson trimmed his baby fat and came into camp ready to claim the starting power forward spot, a title which he has – for now.
Chandler Parsons and his length and athleticism surprised many teams last season after being a classic second round draft find, and no team was more surprised by the Rockets who inserted him into the starting line-up for good, after just seven games as a reserve to start last season.
Parsons excelled in the open court, and in this young season he has shown a desire to improve his playmaking, and although his shooting seems to have regressed slightly, he has his coach’s backing.
The Rockets GM Daryl Morey basically put all his eggs in one basket to go all out for Dwight Howard this past offseason, unfortunately it doesn’t matter how many bad eggs you use, they won’t make a good omelette.
Not that these young Rockets won’t turn out good eventually, but no package of Terrence Jones, Jeremy Lamb (jettisoned to OKC in the Harden trade), Royce White, Marcus Morris or 2Pat was going to tempt Orlando to send their big man to Houston.
The Rockets will go as far as Harden and Lin can take them. Jerames Hardlin (Brangelina anyone? No? Ah well I tried) is a very talented back-court, capable of scoring 50pts combined on any night, and the fact that both are willing passers can only help their young core around them.
I think the Rockets will surprise some teams early, but after the dust has settled and teams get a better look at the Harden/Lin combo, coaches and their defensive patterns will adjust.
The onus will then lie on the other Rockets players to score and contribute – Asik and Parsons in particular – which probably won’t be enough to make the playoffs unless they can sneak in ahead of Utah, Dallas or Minnesota
Projected record: 37-45, 4th Southwest Division