Two a Days: Houston Rockets Preview

Everybody is all smiles in Houston.

Everybody is all smiles in Houston.

By: Travis Thayer

2012-13 Record: 45-37

Projected 2013-14 Finish: 3rd in the Southwest Division

Projected Starting Lineup

Jeremy Lin, PG
James Harden, SG
Chandler Parsons, SF

Terrence Jones, PF
Dwight Howard, C

Key Reserves

Patrick Beverley, G
Francisco Garcia, F
Omer Asik, C
Donatas Motiejunas, C
Omri Casspi, F

“Dwightmania” has officially landed in Houston, and there might be a problem.  Dwight Howard has been at the center of a media circus for the better half of two years, and I wonder if he has the maturity to put things behind him and focus on the task at hand.  An upset Howard made a recent comment about the Orlando Magic allowing Tobias Harris to wear the number 12.  Howard believes that the Magic should retire his number for his service in Orlando.  What did Dwight do in Orlando that warrants his number being retired?  Nothing, he was a good player and he still is, but he has a long way to go before he gets his number retired.  His time in Los Angeles was even worse than his time in Houston.  Howard wasn’t a fit in L.A. from the get go, and his personality didn’t mesh with anyone.  Luckily, Howard gets another chance to fit in – this time with the Rockets.  Judging by the picture above, the Rockets look like a good fit for the playful Howard.  He is paired with James Harden who is in all cases easier to play with than a player like Kobe Bryant.  Harden and Howard should make for one of the best pick-and-roll duos in the NBA.  The Rockets will go as Harden and Howard go, but players like Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons will be the key to success.

The Rockets will definitely be an improved defensive team with the addition of Dwight Howard, and their offense was among the best in the NBA a season ago.  Houston will certainly be in the playoffs this season, but let’s examine how far they can go.  A lot of experts think the Rockets can make it to the Western Conference Finals, and I don’t disagree with the assumption they can – I just don’t think they will.  James Harden and Dwight Howard are top 25 players in the NBA, but as I’ve said before, depth is needed to win a championship.  The Rockets don’t have one person capable of playing the four spot, and their bench is full of mediocre players.  The best case scenario for the Rockets is to trade Omer Asik for a real power forward.  A player like Ryan Andersen would be an ideal fit for Houston.  He has experience playing with Howard, and he can stretch the floor.  I don’t think the Rockets can contend this year without some upgrades.  Rockets fans should believe in James Harden, but it’s going to take some time to trust Dwight Howard.

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