I say this for two reasons. First, the Rockets don’t truly have established players that are known to be good leaders. No matter how talented James Harden and Dwight Howard are, they have never been known around the league as good leaders. Dwight is criticized for being soft and not taking the game serious enough, while Harden has been criticized for not taking control of the team often enough. Second, every team needs a veteran or two to rely on when the going gets rough and the team is struggling.
Kevin McHale often counted on Jason Terry’s leadership in the playoffs last season. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Terry and Trevor Ariza played key roles in the playoffs last season, as both started every game and contributed in key moments of important games such as games 6 and 7 versus the Clippers. However, it wasn’t only there statistical contributions that were important. They made sure the team never gave up when times got rough, and that was clearly evident during game 6 of the Clippers series. Let’s analyze how both Terry and Ariza can impact the Rockets this season.
The Rockets resigned Terry to a veteran’s minimum contract, and he most likely won’t see the court that often this season since the Rockets now have Ty Lawson and Patrick Beverley at point guard. However, Terry is an established veteran with championship experience, and is great to have in the locker room. He will be on the bench supporting the team and helping the younger guys out. Also, if he is called upon to play, he can more than hold his own most of the time.
Trevor Ariza will be called upon to play a lot more than Terry this season. Ariza provides excellent defense at the small forward position and spreads the floor with his three point shooting ability. Ariza played the third most minutes in the NBA last season, proving how much the Rockets depend on him. Ariza is also known to be a good leader in the locker room, and he showed how his fighting spirit carried over to the rest of the team during the playoffs. While Terry is near the end of his career, Ariza has a couple more years left to be a leader for the Rockets.
Although Terry recently credited Harden’s leadership as a reason to return, many around the league (including myself) are not sold on him as a true leader.
In conclusion, The Rockets will have to rely on both Terry and Ariza to provide leadership both on and off the court this season. I firmly believe that in order for a team to make a deep playoff run, they must rely on veteran players with championship experience (such as Terry and Ariza), even in a limited manner.
Kevin McHale is known to use his veteran players often, especially in the playoffs. That’s good for a Rockets team that lacks true leaders besides Terry and Ariza. Whether it is hitting clutch three pointers or just cheering from the bench, both Jason Terry and Trevor Ariza will be key contributors for the Rockets this season.
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