It’s no secret that the Rockets don’t boast the same star power as the top tier teams in the Western Conference.
The Golden State Warriors have now completely redefined the idea of a super-team. It is a very realistic possibility that all five of their starters next season will be All-Stars. Kevin Durant joining what was already the best team in the West makes the team almost laughably good.
Now, I respect Durant’s decision. I’m not excited about it by any means, but a player’s legacy is determined in large part by championships and I can’t say I’d do any differently if I were in his situation. The new Warriors, though, will be even more fun to root against next year than they were this past year.
The Houston Rockets, on the other hand, have a superstar in James Harden but have no All-Star material outside of him. It will be tough to compete in the Western Conference with so many teams having multiple go-to players suiting up every night, but the Beard and company are ready for the challenge.
Houston Rockets news and notes from around the web
To show Red Nation how ready he is to compete, Harden wrote an open letter to the fans discussing how dedicated he and the team are to working hard to be unified in their goal of winning a title. Alec Nathan of Bleacher Report wrote on how well the Rockets are prepared to have a dog in the fight this year with consideration to Harden’s newfound passion and drive.
“Leaders aren’t built when things are going extremely well,” [Harden] said, per Smith. “So I had to learn from it. I had to figure out, how can I be better individually? How can I grasp my team and bring us a lot closer? … I’ve learned so much.”
Competing for supremacy in a top-heavy Western Conference won’t be easy, but if Harden and Co. can steadily rise up the standings and develop a positive culture thanks to The Beard’s reformed approach, plenty of prosperity could be in the team’s future.
Another reason that the Rockets could have an exciting future is a small rule change that will have a big effect on Houston basketball. It’s common knowledge that the Rockets are one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the league, and that makes them a constant target of the Hack-a-Shaq strategy. However, according to The Dream Shake’s Darren Yuvan, the NBA has adapted a rule that will make that strategy just a bit less effective.
"That’s good news for and his career 35.9 percent from the free throw line. The Rockets’ starting center’s minute per game projections just ticked upward, and though he won’t be playing 36 minutes a night, last year’s per 36 averages give you framework for the type of production we’ll hopefully see from Capela: 13.3 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocks on 58.2 percent shooting. If he can somehow get his free throw percentage up as well, we could see the blossoming of a fine player. Clint Capela"
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Though he won’t see the NBA for at least one more year, the Rockets used their 43rd pick in the draft just a couple of weeks ago to select Zhou Qi from China. Calvin Watkins of ESPN sat down with a Chinese basketball analyst to discuss the seven-footer’s game, future in the NBA, and why on earth he’s playing a shooting guard in the CBA at the moment.
ESPN: So what’s his position in the CBA?
Zhang: He’s a 2 guard over there but the problem is the point guard will only pass you the ball when you have nowhere to go and he has to force a lot of shots. I think right now the coaches in the NBA have to give him structure. What kind of player you’re going to be? A stretch 4 or a traditional center? Even over [in China] somebody has to tell him and train him to make him the player he wants to be.
Though there has been almost only bad things said about the Rockets by the media over the past eight months or so, there is lots to be excited about in Houston. As long as James Harden leads his team like he should and the younger players continue to develop as expected, this could be a dangerous team in the short-term and long-term future.
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