Monday, October 22, 2012

Season Preview: Houston Rockets

Scott Halleran, Getty, Jeremy Lin, Edit by: Payton Wales

Last Year's Mess: The Rockets were 34-32 last year, placing ninth in the Western Conference and not qualifying for the playoffs.

The Houston Rockets are a mess.

Linsanity may be in town, but that will hardly be enough to get this ship rolling. This team is in full reset mode, with only Kevin Martin returning from last year's starting lineup. The Rockets have cashed in all their chips and started new. Though that's not necessarily a bad thing, it seems a bit off-putting for a team that was ready to contend just two years back.

The Rockets will be on a quest to stay futile this year. They have pieces in place for a good future team with Lin and Martin, but their chances of contending this year look to be zero.

Lin is a question in and of himself. Look for the Rockets to make moves at the deadline and position themselves for a high draft picks in the upcoming year.

Jeremy Lin 2012 Stats

Martin is another anomaly. His numbers decreased in Houston last year and Martin seems none too happy about it. Sure he was fighting injuries, but the eight-year veteran took this summer to rededicate himself to being in shape and ready for the full 82 games this year. If his renewed vigor holds, we could see one of the best seasons from Martin to date. Rockets management would welcome that, especially come trade deadline.

 Kevin Martin 2012 Stats

Key Additions: Omer Asik, Lin, Toney Douglas, Carlos Delfino, Scott Machado, Demetri McCarney, Kyle Fogg, Shaun Livingston, Jon Brockman and JaJuan Johnson

Key Subtractions: Samuel Dalembert, Luis Scola, Courtney Lee, Chase Budinger, Goran Dragic, Courtney Fortson Kyle Lowry, and Marcus Camby.

Season Outlook: The Rockets have talent on this roster; there is no doubt about that. How much, is the first question, and the second is: Is there too much talent? You heard me, too much talent.

There is a place you don't want to be in the NBA when you are a team resetting themselves. Being middle-of-the-road is bad for a reset. If you get somewhere in the sixth to 10th position in the conference, you are destined to get a mid-level player in the draft.

Call it basketball limbo, but you know how the story goes. Your team is just good enough to make the playoffs or just bad enough not to, and they stay that way year in and year out until blinded by the allure of a possible playoff appearance. They muddle around in that position for awhile and then eventually blow up the team again. It's not a good place to be, and it's the place the Rockets need to avoid.

What gives the Rockets a fighting chance this year might just be their rookie class. Jeremy Lamb is a shooter and looks to be a good one at that. He has earned comparisons to many previous NBA stars, and though we all know these players generally don't live up to their hype, Lamb looks poised to at least make a mark on the scene. Combine that with the big and agile body of Royce White, and you are looking at some rookies that can make a mark right away. It just won't be quite enough to get the Rockets where they want to be.

But, there is time. That is what a reset gives you, and with Kevin McHale at the helm, I'm sure they will put something together that will compete within the next two years.

The Rookies: Lamb, White and Terrence Jones

Payton's Projection: 11th seed in the Western Conference, record of 32-50 overall


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