Saturday, September 14, 2013

2013 Offseason winners: Houston Rockets

Dwight Howard joins James Harden in Houston

2012-2013 record: 45-37

After being discarded by the Thunder last year, former sixth man James Harden never looked back, upping his scoring from 16.9 PPG to 25.9 PPG as a full-fledged starter/All-Star for the Rockets. GM Daryl Morey must hope that three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard can shake off an ugly year in L.A. and return to form.

Point guard Jeremy Lin (13.4 PPG and 6.1 APG last year) and big man Omer Asik (10.1 PPG and 11.7 RPG last year), those others guys the Rockets acquired last summer, remain on the roster after a lot of trade speculation. The plenty compensated duo should thrive in supporting roles. Forward Chandler Parsons, who had a mini-breakout last season and actively helped recruit Howard, should also benefit from D12's presence. Midseason acquisitions Aaron Brooks (re-signed) and Francisco Garcia (re-signed), big men Donatas Motiejunias and Greg Smith, guards Patrick Beverley and B.J. Young, and forward Terrence Jones ensure continuity.

Carlos Delfino, Thomas Robinson and headcase Royce White were lost, but luckily, whenever a team makes some splashy move, the NBA worker ants arrive from everywhere to sign for cheap. Same story this year. The Rockets added shooting (Israeli forward Omri Casspi, former Warriors sniper Reggie Williams), defense (swingman Ronnie Brewer), and rebounding (buyout casualty Marcus Camby) for pennies on the dollar. 

Draft picks Isaiah Canaan (No. 34), Marko Todorovic (No. 45), Kostas Papanikolaou (No. 48 in 2012), and undrafted forward Robert Covington round out the roster.

2013-2014 prediction:

Last season, James Harden arrived as one of the best shooting guards in the league. In 2013-2014, he will have Dwight Howard, generally considered the NBA's most dominant big man just a few years ago, as his running mate. If Howard can move away from his petulant manchild persona, and the versatile and deep supporting cast keeps up, the Rockets should very much be able to churn out a few more wins and improve their playoff chances.

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