With the disappointments of last year now a thing of the past, it is time for a new beginning for the Houston Rockets.
The Houston Rockets are starting the season with low expectations after a mediocre offseason. Even some of their most loyal fans are heading into the season with few expectations. However, after their 131-94 victory over the Shanghai Sharks. The expectations are beginning to rise in Houston.
In their first game under Mike D’Antoni, Houston’s offense already looked better than last season. So much so, Calvin Watkins of ESPN said Houston’s new-look offense looked dangerous in their preseason opener.
While the final score really isn’t important, how the Rockets played under D’Antoni is, and they had plenty of ball movement with Harden taking his new role as distributor seriously. Harden finished with 10 assists and a team-high 16 points. Among the regulars, Anderson finished with 12, Nene was able to get some good looks inside for a strong eight points, Eric Gordon nailed his first two 3-pointers, and then there was K.J. McDaniels. McDaniels scored 12 points, several on unreal dunks courtesy of lob passes from Harden. Overall, the Rockets picked up 34 assists on 49 made field goals.
As Houston look determined to prove their doubters wrong, leading the way is James Harden. After taking home the 2016 Shaqtin’ a Fool MVP, Harden is looking to reclaim his elite status in the league. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical, Harden is willing to do whatever it take to win with the Rockets.
James Harden has grown to understand how the duties of a franchise player expand beyond the court, how a year-round organizational partnership comes with a superstar’s responsibility. From managing the locker room to leadership to free-agent recruiting, Harden has slowly, surely begun to wrap his arms around it all.
While the success of the Rockets will fall on the shoulders of Harden, he may not be alone. After losing Dwight Howard, Clint Capela is ready to become an elite center in Houston. According to Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen, this maybe an all-star year for Capela.
Capela expects at least that much. He also knows how important he could be. Rogers not surprisingly described Capela as “impatient.” But Capela has long-term goals, even if long term for him has never taken long. “I definitely want to be an All-Star whenever I am my best in my career,” he said. “I want to be … consistent with what I’m doing so that my teammates every night can count on me.” He understands why Morey so quickly tied the Rockets’ goals to his play.
Regardless of Capela’s All-Star selections or not. Here is hope that Capela will make a better duo with Harden than Howard.