Promising season for Rockets
The Houston Rockets won 52 games last year, making them the fifth best team in the NBA.
In most NBA cities, that would be a great year, but in Houston 52 wins was only the third best in Texas – behind the Dallas Mavericks and, eventual NBA champions, San Antonio Spurs – and not enough wins to get the Rockets out of the first round of the playoffs.
The bitter taste of defeat endured by Rockets fans in the playoffs last year is almost gone, as the Rockets seem to be NBA Finals contenders in a strong Western Conference.
Under new management
Jeff Van Gundy got the Rockets to the postseason in three of his four seasons as Rocket coach, but the Game 7 loss to Utah proved costly for Van Gundy’s job.
In May, Rockets owner Leslie Alexander decided to make a change – Jeff Van Gundy out, Rick Adelman in as the head coach.
Adelman and the Rockets will be a much better offensive team compared to what they were with defensive-minded Van Gundy last season.
Adelman had great offensive teams in Sacramento and Portland that got him deep into the playoffs.
More changes were afoot for the Rockets in April when Daryl Morey replaced General Manager Carroll Dawson.
Line ’em up
All-Stars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, who year in and year out prove to be a solid inside-outside tandem in the NBA, will lead the team.
The Rockets drafted speedy point guard Aaron Brooks out of Oregon in the first round of the draft.
Steve Francis was also signed, while Mike James was acquired in a trade.
But, perhaps the most important move this offseason was acquiring power forward Luis Scola from the Spurs to bolster the frontcourt alongside Yao.
The Spanish League MVP will be a starter for the Rockets and will take some pressure off from Yao and McGrady as he can shoot the ball very well and hustles on the court.
The 6-9, 230-pound Scola will also give McGrady another option down on the low block.
The Rockets may have one of the stronger benches in the NBA, giving them great depth throughout the season.
They are stacked at the point guard position with Rafer Alston, Bob Sura, John Lucas III, James, Francis and Brooks the explosive rookie.
Dikembe Mutombo will back up Yao, while Chuck Hayes and Jackie Butler will provide rest for Scola.
McGrady’s back ups will most likely Luther Head and Bonzi Wells with limited minutes from Kirk Snyder.
This season Wells will reunite with Adelman, his former coach from their days with the Sacramento Kings.
Wells looks to be a vital part of the Rockets bench as he can play small forward and shooting guard.
It’s not in the bag
Though the team looks good on paper, the Rockets still have to perform against Western Conference powerhouses San Antonio, Dallas, Utah and Phoenix that all look to be good again this year.
The Rockets have to play smart in the playoffs since they have not won a playoff series since 1997.
With all the pieces in the puzzle the Rockets will hope to perform to their great potential and be one of the best teams in a competitive Western Conference. The Rockets open season on Oct. 30 against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in Los Angeles.