The Rockets are almost guaranteed to score a lot of points this season. It’ll take an X-factor, though, to help them stop other teams from scoring.
The Houston Rockets, like many other teams, have their potential success hinged on multiple players and coaches within the organization. Sometimes it’s obvious: the team obviously won’t do well if James Harden doesn’t score a lot. Other times, though, it’s not quite as cut and dry.
Today’s Daily Rocket Science will take a look at a few X-factors within Houston’s organization, and how they could affect the team this upcoming season.
Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report analyzed every team’s roster and made predictions for their biggest X-factors. His guess for the Rockets is Clint Capela, primarily because he’ll be responsible for nearly all rim protection duties.
"Among centers who defended at least as many shots at the rim as Capela last year, the Rockets’ new anchor ranked 25th in league field-goal percentage allowed, per ‘ rim protection metrics. There’s more to good interior defense than contesting shots, but Capela must force misses more regularly if Houston’s defense is going to be something better than “mostly embarrassing.” Nylon Calculus"
Another player who could end up being an X-factor for the Rockets is Donatas Motiejunas. That is, if he actually ends up being on the roster. The Dream Shake’s Darren Yuvan summarized the awkward situation in which D-Mo still remains unsigned.
It’s likely that D-Mo is seeking longer-term security than the simple, one-year tender, but the Rockets have the same reservations that other teams have. They see his well-rounded skill set and the flashes of success he’s had and feel he could still develop his potential. But they also see his inconsistencies and the giant, red flag of major back surgery, something not everyone just simply bounces back from.
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The Rockets, despite not having a first round pick, came away with significant talent from this year’s NBA draft. One of the players drafted is Zhou Qi from China. His uniquely good ball handling for a player of his size could make him an X-factor for Houston someday. However, that day will not be anytime this season. Coty Davis of Space City Scoop reported that he’ll have to play one more season in the CBA before coming to America.
While this may look like a disappointment at the moment, it could be a blessing in disguise for Qi. Not playing in the NBA this season would give him another year to develop his game.
The 7-foot-3 big man spent the last two years playing for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the CBA. Over a two-year span, Qi averaged 14.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Although a solid scorer, it was his presence on the defensive end that made him an NBA prospect. In his first two seasons, Qi led the CBA in blocks averaging 3.3 per game.
The Rockets will rely heavily on Capela to hold down the middle this year, but he seems to be ready for the task. He seems like a perfect X-factor to rely on to get the team back to respectability.
Stay tuned in to Space City Scoop for more news and predictions on the upcoming season. Just a little more than six weeks before the team has an opportunity to prove themselves.