As we approach media day on Monday, many people are starting to put together their predictions for the coming season. Obviously the likes of the Miami Heat, both the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder are all expected to make the headlines and the playoffs, but it seems like everybody is cancelling out the Houston Rockets on making the playoffs. Yes, the team is young, if not the youngest in the entire league, but last time I checked there isn’t an age requirement to make the playoffs.
Defense will be a key factor in the Rockets success this season and could be the difference maker in making the playoffs or not. The teams starting line-up already looks a lot better defensively even with Kevin Martin in the fold.
Marcus Camby, 38, and Samuel Dalembert, 31, did a spectacular job last season but it’s safe to say that they’re both on the decline of their respected careers. Bringing in Omer Asik, 26, this offseason, the Rockets have a man who could at least pull down ten-plus rebounds and block a couple shots a game. A lot of NBA teams don’t have that luxury. The bottom line is you can’t teach 7 feet with a 7’6 wingspan and his presence in the paint will make it challenging for the opposing team.
Well, there’s now a whole in the power forward position due to Luis Scola being amnestied to create more cap space. Patrick Patterson, 23, could fill the spot quite nicely, if not be better than Scola. He is way better defensively and possesses similar offensive capabilities which are a huge plus. Being nine years younger than Scola, 34, he will be able to crash the boards and contest opponent’s shots in the paint (something Scola had trouble doing).
Chandler Parsons’ rookie performance last season speaks for itself. He took the starting position from Chase Budinger and then the rest is history. In his second game against the Lakers, Parsons was given the task to guard Kobe Bryant and did so successfully by holding him to 10-27 shooting at 37 percent. Not bad for a rookie. His second season is highly anticipated by Houston fans and it will be fun watching him grow. I think we will be seeing much more of him in a Rockets jersey for a while.
The shooting guard position is a tricky one because Kevin Martin, 29, is in the final year of his contract and that seems to be all he is at this point. But for right now, he is on the team and I’m going to assume he will be in the starting line-up come the start of the season (until Jeremy Lamb will be given the opportunity). Martin is not a defensive asset at all but to the man’s credit, he can fill the passing lanes and steal some passes from time to time. Don’t expect much besides that though.
And finally, Jeremy Lin. Lin, 24, is a great on ball defender which is a great quality to have in your point guard. In his legendary 27 game run with the Knicks last season, there were numerous occasions where he would strip the defender at half court and score with an easy lay-up. If he’s not stealing the ball, he will be bothering the opponent constantly with his hands.
The Houston Rockets don’t have the big name players and they don’t have a whole lot of experience, but in the end basketball is basketball and defensive wins championships. Whether they make the playoffs or not this season, it is still way too early to count them out. After all, it is the start of ‘A New Age’.