As the NBA season quickly approaches, Right Down Euclid will be previewing all 30 NBA teams, breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of each franchise. This preview will be focusing on the Houston Rockets, who last year had a record of 45-37 and made the playoffs.
Team: Houston Rockets
Coach: Kevin McHale
General Manager: Daryl Morey
2012-2013 Record: 45-37
Place in Conference: 7th
Leading Scorer: James Harden (25.9 PPG)
Key Additions: C Dwight Howard, F Ronnie Brewer, G Isaiah Canaan, C Marcus Camby
Key Losses: F Carlos Delfino, F Thomas Robinson, C Tim Olbrecht
One of the league’s most entertaining teams from last season is now one of our most intriguing contenders heading into the 2013-2014 season. The Rockets were at the top of the league in most major offensive categories, and now add the top free agent from the summer in Dwight Howard. Suddenly, they have to juggle two elite defensive centers, settle an underrated point guard battle, and still don’t have an answer at power forward. The Rockets should be excellent this season, but we have no idea what their ceiling is, and that’s exciting.
The Rockets should be very exciting on offense again this season. With most of their key cogs returning, and Kevin McHale at the helm, the Rockets will be shooting a ton of threes once again, and likely should be hitting a ton of said threes. They are pairing Howard with James Harden, which should work far more fluidly than the Lakers situation for Dwight because a) Dwight should be healthier, and b) Harden is a much better compliment, game AND personality-wise, to Howard. Harden might be the best shooting guard in the league, and him leading the offense and creating opportunities for Howard will be quite fun. Let’s also appreciate Chandler Parsons, who enters his THIRD straight season as the league’s most criminally underpaid player. Defensively, the team should also be much better than we saw for most of last season. With Dwight and Omer Asik sharing rim protection duties, and Patrick Beverley and Francisco Garcia on board for the entire season, the Rockets will suddenly have what should be a generally good defense. If Houston is 90 percent of their offense last season with a top-10 defense, that’s a very, very dangerous team.
I don’t see how Dwight and Asik can possibly play a large amount of minutes together, thanks to the death of spacing that those two will cause. That means the Rockets will need to get large minutes out of either Donatas Motiejunas or Terrence Jones. Jones looks good in the preseason, but I’m still not sold on him playing starting minutes. They don’t have a real answer for big, athletic wings, which is an issue because EVERY contender in the West has one. Parsons isn’t a terrible defensive player, but I can’t see this holding up against three of the Kawhi/Durant/Dudley/Barnes/Prince blitz that the West offers. Also, Daryl Morey has done a great job of orchestrating trades and signings over the past few years, but what happens if he overdoes it and makes a huge deal that wrecks the team at midseason?
2013-2014 Season Predictions
-Will finish as a top-3 seed in the West
-Will lead the league in threes made and attempted
-Terrence Jones will break out and be a quality starter
-Omer Asik will be traded this season
-Chandler Parsons will earn the largest pay raise in the summer of 2015. This isn’t a prediction. The man makes $900k per year for the next two years. This is fact.