The Houston Rockets are probably closer to being a tough out in this year’s Western Conference playoffs then hoisting the Larry O’Brian trophy in late June. As of today these Rockets have not been at full strength for any significant period of time and with Daryl Morey’s constant re-tooling of the roster this group has not had time to gel.
Morey has indicated Omer Asik will remain with the team as soon as he get healthy enough to play. The challenge will be utilizing Howard and Asik properly and that could potentially solidify what has been a very shaky Houston defense by allowing Kevin McHale to always have a elite defensive center patrolling the paint 48 minutes a game. Having a massive advantage every night at two positions in addition to being better than most of your competition at the three in Chandler Parsons is a good reason to have hope that if other areas can be patched up a potential run can be made this postseason.
Let’s talk about the most troubling position on the roster, the Rockets have three very good backup point guards in Lin, Beverley and Brooks but not a legitimate starter in a conference where potentially you have to go through Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Damian Lillard. Now we should never count out Morey’s ability to pull off a deal but it is very unlikely that an upgrade is coming. McHale will have to find a hot hand off the bench and hope the offensive end will neutralize the defensive deficiencies. Patrick Beverley will also have to step up and knock down the open looks he will get in a starting lineup with Harden and Howard.
The four spot is a little less troubling with Terrance Jones emerging as a legitimate starter who should only get better but for the Rockets to win now Donatas Montiejunas needs to continue to get minutes a be the stretch four the Rockets have been searching for. This leaves the Rockets with eight players in the Rotation when nine at most will participate in the postseason. The starters, Brooks or Lin , Asik and Montiejunas. The final area of concern is the backup wing and while the Rockets will have to address this in the off season the best hope moving forward is on the team and Morey hopes Francisco Garcia to get healthy and find his stroke in the second half of the season.
The macro view is is very nice with draft picks, potential rotation players in Europe and natural growth from a young core that is already in place but sports much like life is lived in the moment and this group has a chance to grow up fast and give the city of Houston our first deep playoff run in over 15 years. In order to do accomplish this McHale and Morey must get Asik right in the head and hope Montiejunas and Jones can play well enough while they are still learning how to be pros. At the very least by standing pat we will know what we have going into the off season and on the flip side if Morey made the right calls on some of the young players we might be breaking down a match up against the Heat or Pacers six weeks free of CSN Houston broadcasts.