Chomping at the Bit- The Houston Rockets
What ! This guy must be crazy, ranking the Rockets over Oklahoma City and Memphis you say. Well maybe I am, but the Rockets were moving up in the standings even before obtaining center Dwight Howard via free agency. The Rockets were second in scoring and three point shooting and were well ahead of other teams possessing that ever elusive factor known as an identity. In just a year’s time the team has great chemistry resembling ,that of a college team. The players are young, hungry and unselfish but the least mentioned attribute is the collective basketball I.Q. shown by the core group of Hardin, Parsons, Lin and Garcia. How did they get here? Well, Let’s consider…
Team owner Les Alexander is choice. He has shown great judgment and commitment to excellence particularly in selecting general manager Daryl Morey and head coach Kevin McHale.
Let’s for a minute consider what this organization has accomplished in a short period of time. They obtained Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin by offering them extremely,shall I say ambitious contracts. Rockets staff then immediately went to work on Omer turning him into the third best rebounder in the league and one of it’s top defensive centers. During the same year ( I am still trying to figure out what the hell was OKC thinking). the Rockets traded for James Hardin, clearly an all star in the making and to top off that sundae they then convinced Dwight Howard,the leagues best big man to (get this), leave the Los Angeles Lakers and join the Houston Rockets…..whew.
James Hardin is tough, James Hardin can shoot, he can pass, he can drive, he is smart and did I mention that he is tough ? For the first time in his career Dwight Howard has a team best suited to his strengths. This team is tight, Houston is not Hollywood but the organization is first rate. Dwight is fully healthy this year so look for him to have one of his best seasons to date. Chandler Parsons has made incremental progress since joining the league two years ago.
Chandler shoots nearly 49 percent from the field and 0.385 from the three point line. He is a good passer and slasher to the basket. At 6-10″ this mentally tough player will squeeze every last drop out of his potential.
Jeremy Lin is an above average point guard averaging 13.4 points and 6.1 assist. There is room for Jeremy to improve as a play maker and that is where his emphasis should be. he is smart and athletic enough to become an above average floor general on a championship team.
The future is bright for this franchise but a few bumps in the road have to be navigated along the way. First, general manager Daryl Morey must temper his fantasy league tendency to make personnel moves for the sake of making them. He should lean on experienced staff and coaches for help with player projections/potential. Can coach McHale figure out how to play disgruntled center Omer Asik along with Dwight Howard. This is a huge undertaking but if it works it will yield big results.
Guard James Hardin has to shore up what seems to be matador defense and most importantly he must reach a medium with Dwight Howard in terms of team leadership. It may take a season or two but the Rockets could find themselves in the championship mix along with the Spurs, Clippers, Bulls and Pacers.