Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011-12 Rockets Preview: 3 burning questions and 1 GIANT curveball

1 question was answered during the writing of this post

After finally deciding how to split their millions, the NBA will be returning on Christmas Day......just what we all asked for. Unfortunately for the Rockets and Daryl Morey, they were visited by the Grinch (David Stern) and all their hopes for a deep playoff run were stolen like a plate of who pudding. Still, as Rockets fans we are excited to see our team get back on the court. With the season getting off to such an up in the air start I figured a Rockets preview would best be done by answering 3 burning questions prior to tip off. 

3. Will Kyle Lowry continue his ascension toward upper tier NBA pg?
Last season was a banner year for Klow as he put up 13.5ppg 6.7apg 4.1rpg to easily give him his best season as a pro. At 25 yrs old he should be hitting his prime, and I don't think with his work ethic and attitude it would be too presumptuous to think he can't continue to improve. There are a lot of great pg in the league, but several of the elite ones are in their twilights (Jkidd, Nash, Billups, Parker etc.) or extremely young (Wall, Evans, Curry etc.). Lowry is a PG flying under a lot of people's radar but if he continues to improve his jumper like last season, then along with his knack for rebounding and distributing the rock he will start receiving more recognition. Lowry is my favorite player on this team right now. Despite being a hard worker I like his toughness (mental and physical) and his leadership. Of all the moves Daryl Morey will contemplate Klow is the one player I hope never comes on the trading block.

2. What will Kevin McHale bring as head coach?
Obviously it's an extremely small sample size, but watching the Rockets bigs in the first preseason game it really seemed like they all improved their skill sets. Jordan Hill looked great and even Thabeet showed flashes of an actual basketball player. There is no denying that McHale was an elite post player, and he has helped develop Kevin Love into a double/double machine. Right now the Rockets don't have a lot at the center position, but they do have a plethora of good young forwards who I think could really benefit from McHale's tutelage. Everything I've heard from inside Rockets camp is that McHale is bringing some of that old 80's era Celtic's workman-like attitude to the Rockets. It will be interesting to see who gets the bulk of playing time (especially at the forward spots) and who enters McHale's doghouse (looking at you TWill).

1. Where do the Rockets go from here?
Obviously the biggest question heading into this season is where are the Rockets headed? After several competitive seasons where the Rockets were good enough to compete each night but also too good to get into the lottery, they have been left out of the superstar carousel the last few years. Stern nixed the Gasol deal which seemed like it would have been followed up with a Nene grab, so Dmorey has basically been handcuffed with largely the same roster from last season. The organization that has arguably had the greatest run of players at center in the last 40 years, is all of the sudden without even a Chuck Hayes to fill the middle (Dalembert signed with Sacramento as I was writing this post). But Morey has been steadily compiling good role players who he must be shopping around the league to try and make a splash like the attempted Gasol deal. We have an overabundance of forwards (Rockets signed another today...Jeff Adrien) so Morey surely is looking to move some guys. I actually would love to see Martin and Scola moved. Scola is not that young, has a ton of basketball miles on him, and plays a position that we have several young athletic players that could fill the spot (and probably play much better D). Martin is a scorer. That's it. He is very talented at getting his 20 pts despite his slim build and less than impressive athleticism or shooting style. I think Martin could be an expendable piece that other teams value. AND.......CURVEBALL......As I'm writing this the Rockets just signed Dalembert to a two year deal. This is what happens when you try to evaluate a Daryl Morey could be changing by the minute. Obviously this changes things as the Rockets have a legitimate big to play center. Dalembert won't approach the production of our last 2 foreign born centers, but he will vastly improve the low post defense and give the Rockets a much needed inside presence that I think will make them playoff contenders. Just like that the season got a lot more interesting. I still think Morey could do more things with this roster, but with all the games in a short period of time the team's depth should be a strength even more so in this abbreviated season.

Alright Rockets fans, from up in the air to a playoff prediction in one blog post. Of course by the time you read this the roster could have gone through another drastic change. In D Morey we trust. And if 2011-12 doesn't pan out, just remember that this franchise has given our city the only two championships we've ever celebrated. Let's Go Rockets!