Here at Blue Man Hoop, we’re gearing up for the 2012-13 season by looking around the NBA to see how each team matches up with the Golden State Warriors. We’ll give you an overview of each opponent, a matchup or stat to watch and a measure of just how big a threat each opposing squad represents for the Dubs. Be sure to check out the other previews we’ve done so far on Blue Man Hoop: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons.
Houston Rockets Overview
The Houston Rockets shot the moon this offseason, hoping to land Dwight Howard and/or a couple of other max-deal players. But instead of reeling in the stars, the roster burned up on re-entry. All the maneuvering to cut salary and open space was for naught. What’s left is a team that is now without virtually every meaningful player from last year’s squad.
Gone is Kyle Lowry, the team’s assist leader. Gone is Marcus Camby, Houston’s leading rebounder. Gone is Samuel Dalembert, the Rockets’ best shot-blocker. But hey, Kevin Martin and his 17.1 points per game are still around. So, there’s that.
But a quick look through the Rockets’ player movement chart reveals just how much turnover GM Daryl Morey’s team has endured. In addition to the three players already mentioned, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, Chase Budinger and Courtney Lee are all gone from the rotation. In their places are a whole bunch of rookies. Houston drafted Jeremy Lamb at No. 12, Royce White at No. 16, Terrence Jones at No. 18 and somebody named Furkan Aldemir at No. 53 (whose name I just really wanted to write).
Carlos Delfino and Omer Asik came to Houston as free agents. And I think that’s everything…
Except for Jeremy Lin! Commence Linsanity!
The most popular player in the history of the universe who’s logged about a dozen good games in his career, Lin signed a quirky three-year, $25 million deal. The contract escalates in its third year, which’ll make Lin a $15 million poison pill in 2014-15. With only Shaun Livingston backing Lin up, the team will be his to run for the foreseeable future.
Overall, the Rockets are extremely young and extremely different from what they used to be. For a team that narrowly missed the playoffs last year, it’s been a drastic reinvention. Still, though, the Rockets have a reputation as one of the league’s smartest teams, so maybe all of this will work out.
The Rockets have finished under .500 just once in the last 11 seasons, despite a roster that’s undergone a number of overhauls. In the last decade, Houston has been built around Steve Francis, Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, and a number of star-less of ensemble casts. Whatever the makeup, the Rockets have still found a way to win more than they’ve lost. Despite all the changes this year, expect them to somehow keep up their tradition of winning.
Threat Level: 5/10
Houston gives me a bad feeling. The Warriors lost 2-of-3 to the Rockets last year and have finished behind them in the standings pretty consistently for a decade. Either the Rockets pull all their new pieces together and make a run at a low playoff seed, or they struggle to find their way, but still present an annoyance to the Warriors.
They’re not a monumental threat, but still a team the Warriors need to take seriously this season.