Welcome back to the Sports Script’s 2013-14 NBA preview, a running preview of all 32 NBA teams, detailing their fortunes this season. Yesterday I covered the Los Angeles Clippers, the better Los Angeles team, and what they are capable of doing this season, so make sure to check that one out, along with the rest of the teams. Today we cover the team who made the single biggest acquisition of the offseason, and brought a whole bunch more hatred towards their organization. Let’s delve into the Houston Rockets, and what this season might bring them.
Key Departures: Thomas Robinson (Blazers) Carlos Delfino (Bucks) Royce White (76ers) James Anderson (76ers)
The Rockets might have won the offseason, purely on the fact that they got the best player on the market, a top five player in the NBA, and the best center in the game of basketball since Shaquille O’Neal dominated in the early 2000s. But not everyone is too excited with this move simply because Howard was such a train wreck in Los Angeles last year. Listen, Howard might be one of the most childish players the NBA has ever seen, but he’s a great player, and the atmosphere in LA just did not fit him, and it was best for both sides that he got out after only one year. He didn’t fit with Gasol down low, because he’s a player that demands the ball, and needs it to be successful in the paint, while he was having to deal with the purely jumpshooting Kobe Bryant. He now moves to Houston where he’s paired with another All-NBA shooting guard in James Harden, but this time around it WILL work better. The other pieces they added included forwards Reggie Williams from the Bobcats, good shooter from three and a half decent defender, and Omri Casspi from the Cavaliers. Marcus Camby came from Toronto after being dealt by New York, and will be looking for one last chance at a ring by being Howard’s backup. Isaiah Canaan was drafted in the second round by the team, but he brings great perimeter defense, something that no one in the starting lineup possesses. The guys that did leave were almost all casualties of garnering more cap room in order to sign Howard to a max deal. Robinson could’ve fit in with this team, but just wasn’t given time, Delfino is a real blow in terms of perimeter defense and shooting. Royce White never panned out because of his unwillingness to cooperate with teams, and James Anderson won’t be missed much either. While they weren’t able to add depth like the Blazers and Clippers, they got the star of the free agent market, and that’s what really matters in a star driven league.
The starting lineup has some really nice pieces, but also a couple really questionable ones as well. The real question is at power forward, and while I have Greg Smith slotted there, plenty of other basketball sites have guys like Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas and even Chandler Parson plugged there, with Francisco Garcia playing shooting guard and James Harden at small forward. I highly doubt we see that last one, but the other three options are all options, and that’s scary. Jones got almost no time in his first year as a player, and we’re not sure if he’s ready yet to play big minutes, and Motiejunas is also unproven, despite being another highly touted player in his draft year. Greg Smith got the most time out of them all last year, but he’s a really limited player, and I have no idea how you expect teams to play Howard fairly with Smith, or those other two on the floor. Who will you care about? Howard? Or the three headed monster of Jones, Motiejunas and Smith? It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Next question lies at point guard with Jeremy Lin, and whether or not he can be a real point guard in this league. The guy is a terrible defender, and we’re really not sure if he’s capable of actually being a starting point guard, because even his offense pales in comparison to the likes of the other point guard driven NBA. Other than those two, you’re set to be a contender. Chandler Parsons has the best contact in the NBA, and is one of the most underrated small forwards in the league with his excellent shot, and athleticism. We talked about Howard, and how he will draw a ton of attention opening up that perimeter for the next guy to make a living. James Harden. The best shooting guard in basketball, with Kobe hurt. He came over in one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history, and has made himself into a superstar. He’s a great shooter, capable slasher, and gets to the free throw line at a ridiculous rate. This guy is a star, and with Dwight Howard maybe playing Robin to Harden’s Batman, these guys could be primed for a run.
The Rockets are young, well coached, and finally have the real talent to win in the NBA. “Dork Elvis” Daryl Morey finally has his guys, after years of trying to acquire superstars, and now he has two of them in Harden and Howard. The Rockets are ready to really make it on the big stage, and while I don’t it’s possible in year one, they are going to be a very good team for a very long time in this league.
Final Prediction: 55-27, 3rd Western Conference