Five Things To Watch: Houston Rockets

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James Harden

Times flies. And things change. The Houston Rockets are Exhibit A.

One year ago, the Houston Rockets headed into training camp seemingly empty-handed after a summer spent chasing Dwight Howard via a trade with Orlando.

Gone were Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry, Samuel Dalembert, Courtney Lee and countless others, and in were the unproven Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. It was a seemingly disappointing offseason, but just before the season was set to start, GM Daryl Morey changed all of that, trading Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and multiple draft picks for Oklahoma City sixth man James Harden.

Now, Harden has transformed into one of the league’s premier scorers, and the young cast around him has attracted Howard, the mercurial superstar who spurned the Rockets a year earlier.

There is finally a lot of excitement in the air, and it’s perfectly justified. After losing Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady to injury just a few years ago, Morey has quickly rebuilt the Rockets into a contender.

Coach Kevin McHale’s team will be on national TV more than 20 times this season, and everyone across the country wants to know how all of these pieces will fit together. Let’s look at a number of the storylines they are facing.

1. What are the Rockets going to do at the power forward spot? When the Rockets signed Howard in early July, the early word out of Houston was that Morey would look to move Asik for a legitimate power forward. Josh Smith, Ryan Anderson and Ersan Ilyasova were all mentioned as targets, but such talk has slowly ground to a halt. As a result, the Rockets are likely going to come to training camp with a big question mark at power forward.

The two traditional fours on the roster, Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas, fit best alongside Howard because of their ability to stretch the floor. But both were hot and cold in their rookie stints. Motiejunas was pressed into starting duty after the trade of Patrick Patterson, and Jones got late season minutes, but both were out of the rotation come playoff time.

With that in mind, what will McHale do with that spot? Will he opt to play Motiejunas and put four shooters around Howard? or will he risk destroying his spacing with an unconventional lineup of Asik and Howard in the frontcourt?

2. Can Jeremy Lin continue his improvement from last season? It was truly a shame that Lin got hurt in the playoffs against the Thunder, because the injury overshadowed an excellent second half where he improved dramatically in nearly every facet of his game.Jeremy Lin Race

Coming off knee surgery, Lin’s start to the season was disastrous, with a November in which he shot 37 percent from the floor and averaged just 10.2 points and 6.4 assists. But as his knee got stronger, so did his performances.

After the All-Star break, Lin shot nearly 46 percent from the floor and 38 percent from 3-point distance, and cut his turnovers while boosting his shooting. He led the Rockets down the stretch as Harden desperately needed another guard to help carry the load.

Just like Asik, Lin has seen his fair share of trade rumors this summer as some speculate the Rockets would prefer the scrappy Patrick Beverley. As of now, Lin will stay. If Lin can perform this season the way he did in the second half of last season, you can discard those rumors in a hurry. He will be here to stay.

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  1. LaDonna McKinzie says:

    @Patrick Harrel

    Re: Your statement, “he ( Jeremy LIn) led the Rockets down the stretch” last season? Are you kidding? That is more than a “stretch” of truth….that is a stretch of imagination!!!!

  2. Thats Why I Know U Know Nothing About Rockets Basketball Patrick Herrell…The Rockets Are Putting The Best Shooters N The NBA to Be Surrounded Around D12 Fransico,Reggie,Caspi,Covington,Cannon,Lin,Parsons, Which MT surpize Alot Of Ppl Looks Like Nothing But Talent Never Mind The PF Position Which Is Like The PG position To win The Ring U Really Dont Need Per Eric Pincus All We Need Is A little Action From The PF Position Some Plays.. Greg Smith Is The Truth Weather Anaylst Want to believe it or not He Will Start At PF POSITION or TJones

  3. Patrick Harrell Is A Nobody In Houston Aka Dream Shake & Knows nothing Astros/Rockets Owners Have Put $ into CSN Houston and R Still Putting Money In this deal..Instead of Reapping Benefits 60% Of Ppl in Houston Dont Have The Rockets/LAstros Channel CSN Houston Per Mayor Of Houston..Theirs No Way Dmorey Will Ever Go after JR Smith RT I Guess DreamShake Aka Patrick Didnt Notice Rockets Characthers guys.. JRsmith Would Fit Great W/lin,Harden,Asik/D12,Parsons NEVER..Plus TJones &DMoe At PF what About Greg Smith Who Is The Most Underratted Player Per Espnnba..Who Is Projected Starting PF..This Anaylst Knows nothing

    • Patrick Harrel says:

      Greg Smith will not be starting at PF. The problem with him is the same one with Asik, he can’t space the floor at all. If you’re willing to sacrifice spacing, you would go with the much better player in Asik and at least have a more talented defender on the floor.

      • Whats Funny Is Greg Smith Shot Above 50% Last Year Plus A Great Rebounder..W/Both DMoe & T Jones To Immature Sky s The Limit Even Though I Think TJones Is A Diamond In The Rough High Expectations The Only PF Who Makes Sense Is Greg Smith..Asik Is Good At Defense Not Offensive Both Greg Smith & TJones Are Better At Both Offensive &Defensive..Asik&D12 Will Be Good For Matchups like Zbo/marc ,Gasol/Kaman,Hibbert/West,Duncan/Splitter..But Those Statements Are For Asik To feel Comfortable Rockets Dont Want To Loose the Leader In Rebounds Last Year..Greg Smith Is The Best Fit At PF No ?

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