Lowe Expectations – Grantland’s Zach Lowe has written his 2013-2014 NBA season preview. He puts the Rockets in the second tier of contenders along with the Pacers, Grizz, Clips and Nets, but below the top tier of the Heat, Spurs, Thunder and Bulls. He writes:
The potential for a championship roster is there, but there are too many questions to get Houston, flush with two of the league’s 15 best players, into the top tier. The Rox need to either feed Howard all the delicious post-ups he wants or trick him into feeling like a centerpiece while really leaning on the Harden/Howard pick-and-roll that should be their foundation. Houston will also slow down some after playing at the league’s fastest pace last season, and the coaching staff has been blunt in detailing how Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Chandler Parsons must improve their defensive fundamentals and/or effort.
Lion Face/Lemon Face – I’m going to steal Hardwood Paroxysm’s excellent format for today’s news on the Rockets trip to the Philippines.
Lion Face: Jeremy Lin is loving it:
“I’m glad to see and feel the warmth they showed to me in person when I got the chance to walk in the mall last night. Everyone was polite, respectful and I was really blown away,” he said.
He said he was thankful for a chance “to inspire people, especially my fellow Asians.”
Lemon Face: Traveling to the far side of the globe isn’t a great way to prepare for the season, according to Chandler Parsons:
So, yeah, it’s a little bit inconvenient to make a trip like this at a time when we need every day to build some chemistry and try to come together to challenge for a championship.
So You’re Saying There’s a Chance – Bovada has released the Vegas odds on who will win the NBA Championship this year, and the Rockets’ changes are decent: 10-1. They fall behind Miami (2-1), Chicago (8-1), Oklahoma City (8-1) and the Clippers (9-1), and they’re tied with Brooklyn and Indiana. I feel compelled to remind you that gambling is never a responsible financial decision, unless you’re really drunk.
Karl Malone, Mentor? – SI.com’s Rob Mahoney paired up three NBA stars with hypothetical mentors in a recent column. He picked Karl Malone for Dwight Howard. His rationale is that The Mailman could help Superman reach his full potential as a roll man:
A more committed screen would free up Howard’s ball-handling teammate more, further stretching the attention and resources of opposing defenses. Everyone would benefit. Howard could see clearer lanes to the rim (or segues into post-up opportunities) as the defense rotates to the ball, Houston’s shooters could get more open looks due to the defensive urgency of stopping dribble penetration, and the ball-handler in question would generate momentum en route to a good look at the basket if not defended fully. All it would take is a little patience (and a bit more contact) in Howard’s screen-setting. Who better to learn that timing from than Karl Malone, who served as the finishing half of arguably the best pick-and-roll duo of all time?
This has plenty of merit from a technical skill-development perspective, but let’s be real; the last thing Howard needs is to be following in the footsteps of a big man who is known for wilting in huge moments and never winning a championship.
It’s a Business – A few weeks ago I was surprised to see that I was being followed on Twitter by “the world’s 4th largest mobile handset manufacturer,” ZTE. I was skeptical, having never heard of the company, but a quick Google search revealed that they are huge in Asia, but still didn’t quite understand what any of that had to do with me.
Now I know. Take it away, Forbes:
The Houston Rockets have teamed up with the fourth largest mobile phone vendor in the world, naming ZTE their official smartphone for the 2013-14 NBA season. Marking ZTE’s first major promotional breakthrough in the United States, this partnership capitalizes on the promising future of both organizations.
According to Forbes, Chandler Parsons will play a key role in endorsing the product.
While this is not the first partnership between the Rockets and a Chinese brand, this one seems to have particular significance. The Rockets have been selected by a global company to be a major beachhead for expansion in the United States. It’s an almost unnerving reminder that more is riding on the success of the team than just the emotions of the fans. The NBA is a huge marketing enterprise, and economic bridges between the two most powerful countries in the world–the U.S. and China–are being built on its back.
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