I joined Nate Duncan on his Dunc’d On podcast in an interview published Sunday night. The call was recorded earlier in the month, hence the long discussion over the potential contributions of now former Rocket Michael Beasley.
We discussed a variety of topics, from the offseason additions of Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson, to the team’s potential strengths and weaknesses. I ultimately predicted a 51 win season, but put the Rockets’ ceiling at 55 wins, reiterating a point I’ve been making for weeks: this current roster is as, if not more talented than the 2015 team. And all of the chemistry issues figure to be gone. Why can’t the Rockets repeat the success they enjoyed that year?
Nate and I both expect the team’s offense to be amongst the very best in the league, but naturally were in agreement that the defense will be the biggest barrier to a rise in the standings. I should correct myself, however, over a point I made in support of my premise. I stated that it was questionable whether Patrick Beverley was any longer a good defender. On the contrary, as I recently outlined, Beverley was 5th best last year among all point guards in DRPM. It was the prior season when he finished in the bottom 20’s.
The cause for concern is Trevor Ariza who slipped all the way down to 45th among small forwards, below even Chandler Parsons and Chase Budinger, and just ahead of Carmelo Anthony. In 2015, Ariza finished 7th. Unless Clint Capela turns out to be Dwight Howard circa 2010, Beverley alone can’t carry the poor defenders in this lineup.
You can tell from listening that I’m really excited about this season. I know the Rockets probably won’t contend, but they’ll definitely be an intriguing team to watch and follow. As I repeated many times, just simply removing the negativity of the past few years from the equation will be a step in the right direction.