Posted by Neil Paine on October 15, 2010
Welcome to our 2010-11 NBA Blogosphere Previews, in which we contact the finest team bloggers on the web and ask them to contribute their thoughts on the squad they cover. What follows is their take, along with the team's depth chart (courtesy of ESPN.com), projected 2011 stats via our Simple Projection System, and polls where you get to have your say. Enjoy!
Coach: Rick Adelman
Record: 42-40, Finished 3rd in NBA Southwest Division
Pythagorean W-L: 40-42 (16th of 30)
SRS: -0.01 (16th of 30) ▪ Pace Factor: 94.0 (6th of 30)
Offensive Rating: 107.6 (16th of 30) ▪ Defensive Rating: 108.0 (17th of 30)
2011 Depth Chart (with 2010-11 projected per-36 minute stats ... yellow = newcomer)
2010-11 Blogger Outlook by Tom Martin, thedreamshake.com
The Rockets appear headed in two different directions. In signing Brad Miller, re-signing Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry and pursuing Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Erick Dampier, the Rockets have forcefully indicated that they are ready to contend in 2010-2011. Amidst the cloud of doubt hanging over Yao Ming’s future in Houston – on and off the court -- they may not have a choice.
But for all of the work that the Rockets have exerted in trying to acquire a star player, they’ve come up empty. This is no indictment of the front office, but rather a mere statement of fact. Perhaps the Rockets didn’t want to give up too much to acquire Anthony. Perhaps they didn’t think that he would fit nicely next to Kevin Martin. Regardless, they remain starless. Starless and bubbling with youth.
The brunt of the Rockets’ depth – quite possibly too much depth-- lies in their young talent. Players such as Patrick Patterson, Courtney Lee, Chase Budinger, Aaron Brooks and Jordan Hill are recent draft picks that you might find on a rebuilding team rather than a contender. The Rockets, despite their clear intentions to build a winning product in the short term, have slowly built for the long term as well.
Herein lies the conflict: direction. The Rockets have access to two potential lottery picks. They’re also holding onto a large trade exception that expires later this year. The former screams “rebuild!” while the latter screams “win now!” The question suddenly becomes: when do the Rockets plan on cashing their chips? Or, perhaps: do the Rockets think they can win a conference championship with a star-deprived, yet incredibly balanced and talented roster? That’s something that seemingly goes against everything that winning in the NBA has taught us in recent years.
However, if there is one team who can crack this trend, it’s this year’s Rockets. Too much will have to go right: Yao will need to stay healthy, they’ll have to re-discover their defense and someone will have to start making big shots down the stretch. But the talent is abundant and appears to fit nicely. A starting lineup of Brooks, Martin, Battier, Scola and Yao is among the most well-rounded in the league. The second unit of Lowry, Lee, Budinger, Hill, Patterson, Hayes and Miller screams instant offense and can easily make up for the potential shortcomings of the starters. There happens to be a little bit of everything, everywhere. Post offense/defense, inside/outside shooting, experience/youth, overachievers/underachievers, hustle players/crafty players. It all fits, ideally.
Now, the Rockets will have to translate the potential into wins. It all begins with the defense, and it all ends with the effectiveness and availability of Yao. If the Great Wall can’t make it to the playoffs or can’t stay healthy once there, this team will go no further than the first round. But if enough works out, they’re a dark horse capable of beating anyone.