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3-on-3: 2012 Houston Rockets season preview edition




Well, we’re here.  Saturday marks the start of the 2011-2012 basketball season with our beloved Rockets warming up in a pre-season exhibition against their rivals from San Antonio.  To usher in the new year, I got together with two of my favorite Rockets writers, Tom Martin from The Dreamshake, and Jason Friedman of Rockets.com.  What ensues are some brief takes on the team in 2012.

1. Which Houston Rocket is most likely to have a breakout season?

Jason: I can’t wait to see what Kyle Lowry has in store for us this year. If it’s a relative repeat of what we’ve seen from him the past two years, great. If, however, he can maintain his March numbers (20 ppg, 8 apg, 5 rpg, .427 3-pt%) over the course of an entire season, we’re talking All Star.

Tom: If Carl Landry could “break out” playing behind Luis Scola, I’ve got a hunch Patrick Patterson can do the same. Like Landry, he’s a dynamic, spread-the-floor scorer and owns a seemingly patented “Scrappy Houston Rockets Motor.” That said, Patterson brings more to the table on the glass and on defense, and with Kevin McHale now on board, I expect his post play to improve significantly.

Rahat: Johnny Flynn was so bad in Minnesota that we forget he is a former #6 overall pick.  Now healthy and in a more conventional system (the Wolves ran the triangle), I think Flynn bounces back and at least looks like an NBA player.  Daryl Morey will have decisions to make between the former Syracuse standout and Goran Dragic.

2. Which Houston Rocket has the most potential?

Jason: Terrence Williams is the most physically talented player on the Rockets’ roster. He’s an athletic freak with all the size, strength, quickness and explosiveness you’d ever want to see at his position. He also can really pass and has the capacity to be a lockdown defender. The sky’s the limit. It’s on T-Will to fully focus and reach those heights.

Tom: There is no denying Terrence Williams’ athleticism, but I’m not convinced he can harness his potential just yet. He lacks polish and patience, two attributes I’ll gladly throw in the direction of rookie Marcus Morris. Call me crazy for choosing an unproven rook, but if Morris can play small forward, he has the jump shot and the size to score from anywhere on the floor. Think Carmelo Anthony… and divide by two.

Rahat: Few guys in this league possess the raw gifts of Terrence Williams from size, to athleticism, to innate vision as a passer.  Can he finally put it together?  If T-Will could just overcome the attitude issues which have plagued his career, the Rockets could have an All-Star on their hands.

3. What must the Rockets do/improve upon from last season to be a playoff team this year?

Jason: The Rockets have to be better defensively, period. That doesn’t just mean making people miss; it also means pounding the glass when those misses occur. Houston ranked in the bottom third of the league last year in defensive rebound rate and opponent field goal percentage allowed, a toxic combination for any team harboring hopes for the playoffs.

Tom: Defense is the key here, but even more important is its timing. The Rockets were among the league’s worst in fourth-quarter points allowed last year, and it came back to bite them in far too many winnable games. Houston still lacks the legitimate center it so desperately needs, but don’t expect this team to make excuses. They have to play bigger and make up for the deficiency.

Rahat: Defense, defense, defense.  With Lowry, Martin, and Scola returning, the offense will be there.  With Hayes gone, the ‘D’ takes a huge step back.  After losing their best interior defender, things could get ugly for the Rockets.  How Patrick Patterson slides in to fill that hole left will be key to the team’s fate.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of www.Red94.net.

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