It’s finally here. The seemingly endless NBA preseason is over and it’s time to put up or shut up. And the Rockets look to be doing much more putting up than shutting up this year.
With James Harden having already well established himself as one of the best players in the league, the absolutely brilliant acquisition of Dwight Howard by Daryl Morey and a well balanced supporting cast, the Rockets are looking to make a serious run.
I know preseason in any sport is difficult to get jazzed about, but with the 2013 Rockets you can’t help but get a little worked up. Harden has been putting up some great numbers despite his limited minutes in preseason play. Howard (so far) seems to be silencing his critics now that he’s finally found a team that he appears to be happy to play for. Omri Casspi has emerged as a positive presence. Not to mention the versatility of the rest of our team.
Not only do we have a lot of skilled players, both starters and off the bench, but Kevin McHale has been switching up the lineup in ways that could prove most beneficial. Patrick Beverley - whom I’ve always liked – is starting over Jeremy Lin. A move some say that should’ve probably happened sometime last season. Omer Asik will be starting with Howard for the season opener at power forward. Some of these things could turn out to be experiments gone wrong, but only time will tell.
As cliche as it sounds, the Rockets’ most difficult issues will come when they have to face adversity. This is a very young team and there are so many new pieces involved. McHale has already made it clear that he will be changing the lineup regularly until they find something solid that works. Throughout these first few games of experimental play, they’re going to have to prove to people that they can take a few blows and still come back strong. The teams to beat in the West for the Rockets will be the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors and maybe the Memphis Grizzlies or San Antonio Spurs. How they play against these teams during the regular season will prove to be a big testament as to how far the Rockets can go in the post season.
All in all, this is going to be an exciting season for the Rockets. I think we now have the potential to be a real contender. Then again, that’s what we all said about the Texans this year, so we’ve learned about being overly confident going into the season. In any case, it should be fun to watch our players find their chemistry together and hopefully reach the potential I know they have for this team.
Personally, I haven’t been this excited about Rockets basketball since the ’93-’94 season. And y’all know what happened that year…