Houston will be an intriguing team to watch this season after last year coming out of nowhere (well 4th the year before, but they did lose Asik and Lin in the offseason, which at the time for some reason seemed a big deal) to win 56 games and snatch the second seed in the West before losing in the Western Conference Finals to Golden State. With Daryl Morey in the front office, the analytically driven Rockets took the least mid-range jumpers in the league, with MVP candidate James Harden epitomising the 3 or layup philosophy shooting 7 threes and 10 free throws per game.
The Rockets looked as if last season was somewhat of a fluke, with everything seemingly aligning for them to sew up the 2nd seed and subsequently make the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder were injured, the Spurs lost to the Pelicans in the final game of the season and the Clippers were well…the Clippers in the Conference Semis, everything fell into place for Houston, right? Well, not exactly. The Rockets had their fair share of turbulence last season, starting Point Guard Pat Beverley missed the playoffs and 26 games of the regular season, Corey Brewer was acquired midway through the season, Dwight Howard missed half the season and Power Forwards Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones missed 60 games combined. The Rockets will have a fully functional Howard, a funky Power Forward rotation, Brewer coming off the bench for a full season being more familiar in the system and will gain Ty Lawson from the Denver Nuggets for nothing.
Lawson is one of the premier drive and kick players in the league and should fit this Rockets offense perfectly, developing an unpredictable and potentially phenomenal drive-and-kick one-two punch with Harden. Another ball-handler alongside Harden will lessen his workload and will force defenses to actually guard someone else on the perimeter and will also mean that we see less possessions where Harden just dribbles for 20 seconds before forcing up a three or a drive. This model puts the Rockets in equal 4th- alongside the more fancied Clippers and Spurs- which may surprise some, but no one should sleep on the Rockets this season, this team is absolutely stacked. Seriously, check out their bench, Beverley, Marcus Thornton, Jason Terry, Brewer, Clint Capela (expect HUGE strides from him this season – in more ways than one, pardon the pun), Dekker, Harrell and KJ McDaniels. That’s a 13 man rotation to match any other in the league and one which will hold Houston in good stead in the regular season. If Lawson works out, I believe this team are the favourites to win the West.
Projected Record: 51-31
My Predicted Wins: 55-60
|2014||FGA Ratio||1||FTA Ratio||1|
|STANDING IN WEST||5|