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The Rockets Daily – October 2, 2013

Keep BreathingVia CBS Houston, Dwight Howard sat out of practice on Tuesday with a sore foot.

Howard doesn’t think it will be an issue.  After practice Tuesday, Howard told reporters the team just wanted to give the foot some rest.

“Just sore.  They wanted to rest me,” Howard said. “Nothing major just a precaution.”

“I wasn’t really worried about it,” Howard said of getting X-rays on the foot. “It was nothing really serious, wasn’t a worry.”

Yeah, no big. I can’t think of any reasons why Houston’s training staff would go DEFCON 5 trillion over their star center having some foot soreness. Can Yao you?

Rave Reviews – The Rockets ranked no. 4 on USA Today’s Watchability Rankings. Aside from the obvious draw of Howard and Harden, the continuing youth movement gained some attention:

Intriguing youth: With Parsons, Motiejunas, Greg Smith, Terrence Jones and Patrick Beverley, the Rockets have lots of young talent that should prove formidable once given more minutes. Parsons has already firmly established himself as a capable starter and Beverley played solid minutes at point guard last season when Lin was hurt. The two big-man prospects have boundless potential and could make Houston a very exciting team beyond just the superstars.

I’m not sure which two of Smith, Jones and Motiejunas are the two prospects with “boundless potential,” but it’s good to see those guys getting some love.

CowardsMike Kearns at The Dream Shake pretty much called out the rest of the Rockets’ blogging community for our reluctance to ascribe championship potential to this year’s team:

They have two of the top 10 players in the game right now, arguably. They have a general manager that is one of the best I’ve ever seen in rounding out a roster with the right role players. They have a coach that players love to play for and has won at the highest level in his playing career. They’re also young and said general manager has probably the best trade chip out of any contending team at the moment. Other than your own insecurity as a Houston sports fan, why the hell should we not look at this team as a title contender in 2013-14?

Kearns presents a compelling case. My rebuttal is as follows: “LeBron James.”

Actually, you know what? I can’t just leave it there. Kearns is extremely right. All of the teams in the West that are assumed to be better than Houston (which I would consider to be San Antonio, OKC and the Clippers) have serious issues that no one wants to talk about. So lets talk about them.

The Spurs are ancient, but no one wants to write them off because they always seem to supernaturally defy age and injury. But Father Time is undefeated, and the chances of age catching up to Tim Duncan only increase each year. The same goes for 31-year-old Tony Parker.

The Thunder are flat-out worse than they were when they weren’t good enough to win a championship two years ago. And that was before this news broke.

My take on the Clippers will make some people upset: Chris Paul is overrated. That’s not to say he isn’t elite, or even that he isn’t arguably the most productive point guard of all time. I mean that he is regarded on a level with LeBron James and Kevin Durant in terms of guaranteeing wins. He is probably the third best player in the league, but at this point in his career, that is a very distant third. His creaky knees are the other shoe always waiting to drop. Then there’s Blake Griffin, who puts up the numbers of a great big man without the defense to go with them. Griffin and Paul are basically what Harden and Howard would be if Harden was exactly 1.1 WARP better and if Howard played only average defense. I would consider Doc Rivers’ arrival to be a bigger deal if he brought Tom Thibodeau with him.

I’m sure arguments can and will be made for the Warriors and the Grizzlies, but those may have to wait for another day.

I’ve tempered my expectations to not get my hopes up for anything better than a second-round exit, but really I’m just trying to soften the potential blow of disappointment. I wouldn’t take the Rockets over the field as being the best bet to make the Finals, but I wouldn’t take any other team over the field either. I can’t look at any other team in the West and say with confidence that it’s better than what Houston should be. It’s time to accept that Houston is the rational favorite in the West and accept the pressure that comes with it.

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About the author: John Eby got on the Rockets bandwagon in 1994 and never got off. He is a public relations guy and recovering TV journalist living in South Carolina.

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