HEAD COACH: RICK ADELMAN
PG- AARON BROOKS
Trust me, the temptation here is to do what everyone else does and start reeling off “Daryl Morey is a genius” stories. There’s plenty of material, and yes, it might save me some time. Truth is, Morey has been every bit as unlucky as he is smart.
How else to explain that the most powerful man on the planet Houston since
this dude has yet to advance further than the second round of the play-offs?
The answer is easy: Injuries. Most notable, the bad luck stories of Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, who combined to miss well over THREE HUNDRED GAMES for the Rockets since 2005. Kind of hard to win with star players perpetually wearing street clothes.
Well, 2010 brings new hopes for Houston. Not in the “this team can be good, I swear it!” way of the Los Angeles Clippers, either. This should be genuine optimism, and for good reasons.
First and foremost, Morey has this roster stuffed like a high-maintenance womens’ suitcase, with multiple capable players at every postition and several tradeable assets. Having reached close-but-no-cigar status in the Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, it would appear to be only a matter of time before Houston scores the deal that puts them in serious contention for the Western crown.
In the here-and-now, Houston is moving forward with careful plan for the fragile feet of Yao, limiting him to 24 minutes a game and possibly sitting him on the second back-to-back games. Smart move with a team this deep. I mean, Yao for half the game beats Yao in a suit, you know?
Assuming this works, Houston is gonna be pretty tough this year. Aaron Brooks has evolved into a dynamic point guard, too slippery for 95% of the league too stay in front of, and has improved his range enough that you have to respect him, meaning he’s pretty much impossible to guard for an entire 4 quarters. Kevin Martin, meanwhile, is capable of being both a dynamic scorer and as durable as peanut brittle, which basically makes him perfect for the Rockets. Good thing they scooped up Courtney Lee in a trade then, as the 25 year old will make an excellent (and more durable) back up/insurance policy.
Shane Battier and Chase Budinger will make a pretty competent offense/defense platoon at the 3, the Power forward spot is solid with Luis Scola (improving every year), and Chuck Hayes and Jared Jefferies offer different looks as reserve options.
Perhaps the shrewdest move this year was signing veteran rock Brad Miller to play center in the unlikely event that Yao ming should somehow fail to remain healthy. Known for his solid, intelligent floor game and pointy elbows, Miller is pretty much an ideal pivot for Rick Adelman’s system, especially since he spent a few years playing for him in Sacramento. Also doesn’t hurt to have at least one dirty player on your team. I mean, you gotta hand it to a guy tough enough to risk decapitation and the hands of Shaq.
IF THEY GET LUCKY: nobody gets hurt, plain and simple. oOher than that, Morey hitting on one of these blockbusters he’s been close to wouldn’t be bad either. Any way you cut it, this will be adangerous team if it stays healthy.
IF THEY DONT: Do you really have to ask? That’s what I thought.
REALITY: Well, honestly, I don’t know. I mean, it’ll be one or the other, depending on the health thing.
What I’m saying is, if this was NBA Live (with the injuries off), this team would win 55 or so games and supplant Phoenix as this years surprise Western Conference Finalist. Seriously, they have enough talent on paper to be there.
If and when bones starting breaking and muscles start pulling, Houston will be back in the mid-40 win range and likely take some more talented team to the limit in the playoffs before bowing out.
BONUS: ROCKETS ANNOUNCER MATT BULLARD LOVES FASTTIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH AS MUCH AS I DO
So much so, in fact, that he’s taken to calling Chase Budinger “Bud”, and making sly references to the movie during games.
Best part is the other guy being totally clueless when he slips the “awesome set of tools” bit in there.