Hello Red Nation. My name is Brandon and, if you’re a regular in the Rockets blogosphere, you may know me as BD34 from The Dreamshake. If not, that’s fine, I wanted to take this time to say hello. I’m the newest acquisition of Red94. I’m excited to be a part Red94 and I plan on helping drive the kind of content Rahat strives to give you. If you’re curious as to the kind of content I’m bringing, you can get a feel for that here (2013-2014 schedule analysis), here (Royce White commentary), and here (Positional and statistical analysis).
If you’re not interested in reading through any of those articles, let me give you the run-down. My promise to you is insightful analysis, a new perspective, comprehensive writing style, and a big picture perspective on some issues you may never have known you wanted it on. I’m looking forward to taking this next step forward in writing for the 2013-2014 NBA Champion Houston Rockets, and I hope you’re as excited as I am.
Of course, the personnel were different and the Hornets were now called Pelicans. James Harden’s presence as the face of the franchise wasn’t new. Dwight Howard donned the number 12 in Rockets red and even that wasn’t the departure from the familiar. The rest of the team, old and new faces alike failed to really convey a stunning change to me as well. No, this wasn’t something cosmetic. This was something felt, not something observed. Perhaps you noticed it, too. This wasn’t the Houston Rockets of old. This wasn’t McHale’s Rockets, this wasn’t Adelman’s Rockets, and this was something new. The chemistry was there, and that’s to be expected of a young and affable team. No, to be cliché and reinforce the Rockets marketing campaign, this was a new age.
Now it’s time to quantify a feeling, a task poets and bards have attempted since we put chisel to rock and pen to paper. This team was smooth, like brand new, fresh off the lot, sports car smooth. Yes, they were playing against a team that figures to struggle this year. Yes, it’s easy to look good against teams like that. No, that’s not what I’m talking about. The Rockets were moving, quickly, their passes were crisp, and their moves were decisive. This was not the reckless and sometimes tentative, up-tempo group we saw last season. Jeremy Lin attacked the rim and distributed knowing full-well what he wanted to accomplish. James Harden and Dwight Howard played the pick and roll like they had been on the same team for years. It was a seamless integration. The Rockets displayed an awe-inspiring fluidity on the floor. Dwight Howard glided through the air for rebounds and the team keyed off of that in the fast break. Chandler Parsons was filling gaps everywhere becoming the quintessential utility player. Terrence Jones began to stake his claim to the starting power forward spot by displaying a game that compliments Dwight Howard. Omri Casspi played like a man wily veteran and not a man on the fringe trying to earn a spot. He did so without disrupting the flow of the game which may have been even more impressive. Patrick Beverley looked like a man fighting for the starting spot and not at all like a back up in the NBA. The contributors to this game just exuded competence, confidence, and skill.
That’s not to say it was all smooth sailing. Donatas Motiejunas struggled to prove his case as a starter and looked lost defensively. Terrence Jones needs to rebound stronger if he wants to create any measure of confidence in his abilities. Ronnie Brewer had a chance to showcase himself and only attempted one shot while being minimally productive. The team occasionally looked disjointed. What would you expect when Kevin McHale is attempting to figure out who is going to make the final roster?
At the end of the day, Red Nation is new this year. This isn’t the of 2009-2012 team that struggled to escape the 14th pick annually. This isn’t even the plucky squad of last season. This is a team that looks like dominance is in its make-up. A team that looks unified behind one direction, one goal, and one mindset. One thing is for certain, this year’s Houston Rockets isn’t an underdog anymore and teams will be looking to put a damper on those sky-high expectations. Dwight Howard said he’s betting 30 million dollars on the fact that the Rockets are closer to a title than the Lakers. In their first preseason game, the Rockets looked the part. This isn’t like years past. This is truly… A New Age.