Dwight Howard’s arrival in Houston signals the arrival of one of the most dominant players in basketball, along with one of the most polarizing personalities in sports. Here at Red94, we are embracing the drama of Superman’s first season as a Rocket with a weekly column: “DwightLife.”
Are the Houston Rockets truly Dwight Howard’s team?
Heading into the season, that was a little bit of an unresolved question, but we may be getting closer to an answer. Read More
The Orlando Magic look to have a lot to look forward to in years to come, but they are very much playing for the future right now. For a team that can reasonably be accused of playing down to the level of their opposition at times, this was a chance for the Rockets to show that they are capable of efficiently dispatching inferior opponents. It wasn’t a completely serene process, but in the end they came away with a comfortable win. It’s great that occasionally everything can go according to plan!
Marc Stein’s latest is that the notion of Philadelphia as a viable destination for Omer Asik has been making the rounds. Stein reports that this, in part, is due to the fact that Philadelphia could send back Thad Young to the Rockets. Stein also adds that there is an increasing belief that the Rockets intend to deal Asik to the Eastern Conference leading me to intensify my own belief that the Rockets probably will end up holding onto Asik.
First, while Young at this stage certainly is an upgrade over sophomore forward Terrence Jones, I’m not sure he’s enough of an upgrade to warrant trading the team’s best remaining trade chip (and probably the best asset it will have to improve the team during the duration of the Dwight Howard-James Harden era.) Adding Young to this lineup likely adds a win or two, but it also stunts and depreciates the value of Jones, nullifying any positive benefits gained if viewing this thing from the long-term. Young also doesn’t strike me as the type of asset that other teams would find enticing as part of a larger, later deal.
Jones has slipped of late from his torrid start, even being benched to start the second half against Phoenix. But his emergence has removed desperation from the Asik equation. Point being, if Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin are healthy, I’m not sure it makes sense to just trade Asik just to trade Asik. (Lo and behold, Parsons’ return to the lineup the other night correlated with a rebound-game from Jones.) At this point, I still think your best bet is some sort of complicated three-way deal that brings back a lottery pick for Asik. A much grander deal involving Lin as well could improve the team, but that would seem even more unlikely just because that sort of thing rarely happens. (Think ‘Mel0, Bosh.)
If Asik is dealt, I think it’s for a lottery pick or in a blockbuster with Lin. My money right now is on the team just holding onto him outright. At this point in time, I don’t see them dealing him for the likes of a Thad Young type.
Chandler Parsons returned against the Warriors and the Rockets quickly got back on track. Parsons is proving to be the glue that keeps the Rockets together. His quiet leadership is exemplified by the effort he puts out every single night. Parsons presence definitely sets the pace that is suited to Harden’s game.
Harden came back to life, determined to make up for his lackadaisical performance against the Suns. What inspires Harden’s effort is still not clear. But, an embarrassing game definitely sets up Harden to be aggressive and play with the impact that his contract requires. We need to see that killer every night. I see McHale walking a fine line trying to dial this in with Harden. Maybe at his age (he’s only 24) he’s still learning how to bring it every night, but it’s not there yet. Come playoff time, the Rockets need to figure this out and get an effort every game, that justifies his status as an elite player in the NBA. His three point shot percentage is on trajectory for a career low of under 30%, and his turnovers are at a career high of 4.1 a game this year.
The Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors combined to hit 8 three pointers is 44 tries. That’s a total of 18%: 2-16 for Golden State and 6-28 for Houston. That’s a horrible, grim, coma-inducing number for any team, let alone a combination of two of the most avid and most accurate three point shooting teams in the league. Judging from three pointers alone, one might surmise that the game was a sloppy, ugly clank-fest on both sides. Well, one, you surmised incorrectly. The three point shot might have gone, but the defense and the mental intensity showed up instead.
Here’s an interesting sentence that I get to write: James Harden did a great job shutting down Klay Thompson. James Harden was locked in defensively all night, and along with Dwight Howard’s excellent rim protection was critical in holding the explosive Warriors to a mere 83 points. The good news is that the Rockets showed that many of their defensive problems can be linked to a matter of focus. The bad news is that they don’t seem willing or able to focus as much as they need to every single game.