The Houston Rockets off-season was a success by all accounts all because of the acquisition of Dwight Howard. He and James Harden seem poised to spearhead this team into legitimate Western Conference contenders for years to come, but in reality we should all collectively pump our breaks. Obviously Howard and Harden are the two most important players on that roster but Chandler Parsons is firmly in third, now while Houston does have a team option after the upcoming season (and are likely to pick it up) the rest of the roster is a question mark. Everybody right now praises the so-called genius of a GM Daryl Morey but in reality the long term prospects of this team seem very “iffy”. Not everybody can do what the Miami Heat and get veterans to leave money on the table just for the chance to win. Parsons and Patrick Beverly are poised to get raises after next season if they keep on the current pace their careers are at and the Rockets will have the cap space to pay them.
While Beverly’s contract will be tame Parsons is looking at 8 figures and that’s going to limit the options they have to fill out the rest of the roster. Not to say a core of Harden, Parsons and Howard is bad but I don’t think it’s one that can win a title in the grizzly Western Conference. I’m not ready to call Morey a genius for poison pilling the contract or Asik and Lin which in term has limited them from getting that ever elusive third star that seems necessary to win in today’s NBA, I don’t think he’s a genius because James Harden was undervalued by the Cavs, Warriors and Wizards while the Thunder were shopping him, and it’s asinine to praise him for Dwight Howard falling into his lap.
While the moves are great and the Rockets are as good as they’ve ever been post Hakeem, I think they have a smaller window to be great than projected by most.
That doesn’t even begin to dive into the on the court problems. For all of the praise he gets as a “dominant” big man he has some very serious limitations. He is very reluctant to run the pick and roll one of the most simplistic yet useful plays in basketball, which is concerning considering he was paired with the best pick and roll point guard in the NBA last year in Steve Nash. Dwight only seems comfortable in the rudimentary four out, one in system that he flourished in while playing in Orlando. Four shooters out while Dwight post up and he has the option to kick the ball out to whoever he likes, it can be effective at times, (see: 2009 NBA Finals) but it limits everybody else. That was a good reason why the Lakers were such a flop this past year: Dwight’s inability to adjust. He didn’t change for Kobe, Nash, Pau and Mike D’Antoni and now that the Rockets are invested in Howard to the tune of $88 million he has no reason to bend for James Harden and Kevin McHale, hes going to demand the ball in the post and clog the lane for slashers like Jeremy Lin and James Harden.
Dwight loves to have post-up and have the ball in his hands, the only problem is Dwight has no post game, and I don’t think 3 months with Hakeem will fix his deficiencies in the paint. He has a game that’s centered primarily around athleticism and that fades with age and the best kept secret in the NBA is that Dwight Howard is closer to 30 than he is 20, couple that with his injuries piling up, do we really expect him to be the same guy we saw in Orlando? Anybody who saw him last year saw a different player than we are accustom to, he couldn’t jump like he used to, he wasn’t putting his body into guys like before and his lack of a refined offensive game showed. His age and the shaky post game make me really question the notion that he could become an all-time great player, he has to get a move on things. The future of the Rockets lies on Dwight Howard and as of right now Dwight is a question mark.
To sum it up, are the Rockets better than before? Probably. Are the Rockets better than the Spurs, Thunder, Warriors and Clippers? I’m not quite sure they are.
Written by: Andrew Coutee