The Houston Rockets are making noise in the city of angels this week, as a majority of the players are in L.A. working out. But putting in off-season work is not the only thing that they are doing, as Chandler Parsons has appeared on a number of ESPN shows, Daryl Morey has appeared on ESPN’s PTI, and a few players have been involved with the ESPY’s, that is set to take place Wednesday night.
The Rockets’ players themselves felt the need to organize an “informal mini-camp” to welcome in their big prize acquisition, Dwight Howard, and to get a head start integrating the center into their offense.
“I think the earlier you get started, the better,” said Parsons. “When you have pieces that are new, especially guys who are going to be impact guys like Dwight, it’s good to get to know one another on and off the court to get that familiarity and be comfortable with one another so that by the time training camp comes, it’s not strange, it’s not uncomfortable and it’s something that you’re used to.”
Howard’s new teammates have already began raving about his skill set.
“He’s just an athletic freak,” Jeremy Lin said when asked how Howard has looked during their initial scrimmages together. “Certain sets with him rolling down the paint toward the basket and using his athleticism, it’s going to be really good for us. I think we can be really creative with the ways that we use him. He’s just an animal when it comes to everything near the rim – he’s thrown down numerous alley-oops already from James. He forces defenders to take an extra step or two to make sure he doesn’t get the ball just because he’s so explosive and so strong, and that gives us so much room to work. He’s either getting a dunk or someone else is left wide-open.”
Those are all traits that the Rockets were missing last season. Even without the presence of a low post finisher, Houston still finished 9th in the NBA in point differential. Now add that with Howard, plus the defensive force that is Omer Asik, and the Rockets instantly have the best 1-2 punch at the center position. Not the mention the development at the stretch-power forward position with Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, and veteran free agent Omri Casspi, and the Rockets are putting a solid nucleus around the 3-time Defensive Player of the Year.
But while it all looks great on paper, the young Rockets still must find a way to fit all the pieces together.
In an interview with Jason Friedman, Parsons stated that the current team now is reminiscent of the Orlando Magic team that Howard lead to the NBA Finals in 2009:
“That’s a huge reason he chose to come to Houston. He loves our style of play, he loves the personnel. He looks forward to playing with me and James and Jeremy. I think it reminds him of Orlando where they had him and Gortat, and now it will be him and Omer. You have me as the Turkoglu kind of player. And no offense to Courtney Lee, but James is one of the best if not the best two-guards in the NBA. Their offense was really good when they could space the floor, have him roll out of the pick-and-roll, find shooters and play inside-out. I think our offense is very similar to the offense that he had a lot of success with in Orlando, but ours has even more freedom, it’s more up-tempo, and the more he runs, ducks in and the harder he rolls on those pick-and-rolls, it’s just going to open up our offense even more.”
While it’s difficult to compare the personnel of both teams(Parsons to Turkoglu may be the most comparable), the style of play can surely look similar. Ironically, that team set the record for most three-pointers made in a game on January 13, 2009, when they made 23 threes against the Sacramento Kings. The Rockets tied that mark last season against the Golden State Warriors.
In Case You Missed:
Chandler Parsons on ESPN Sporstnation
Daryl Morey on PTI: