What to expect from the Rockets’ upcoming season (if there is one): A breakdown of the point guard position

This NBA off-season is the first in recent memory in which Rockets’ fans aren’t gnawing their collective fingernails to the quick in nervous anticipation. This year, for once, we won’t be mining quotes from team doctors, picking them apart like historians attacking hieroglyphs, digging for subtle clues as to when or how our hopes might return. There can no longer be any hope that a superstar savior (7’6” or otherwise) will return from injury and lead the team into contention. The roster is what it is. There can no longer be any doubt that the process of rebuilding has begun.

Of the 17 men currently listed as Houston Rockets (counting Marcus Cousin and Marqus Blakely), only three are older than 25, and only one, Scola, is older than 28. The roster is nearly three deep at every position, teeming with young players with something to prove and a limited number of available minutes in which to prove it. With the coaching staff overhauled to a presumably more Morey-ball friendly bunch, we’ll most likely see long, shifting rotations that will look to experiment with player combinations rather than cleanly divide the starters from the bench.

If this holds true, most everyone on the roster will more than likely at some point have a shot to make his mark. But who will distinguish himself and who will get lost in the fray?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll attempt to make sense of this madness, one position at a time.

First up: Point Guard

Kyle Lowry

I discussed in April what I think Lowry could mean to the Rockets’ future.  Despite the team’s general state of flux, his performance over the second half of last season made him the clear incumbent to beat for the starting point guard spot. His stellar defense and ability to push the tempo on offense were evident even in his first few seasons in Memphis, but the development of his three-point shot and willingness to be a team leader on both sides of the floor are what could eventually make him an elite NBA point guard. If he can keep up the torrid pace he set for himself after the all-star break, by the middle of next season, he could be turning heads in more locales than just Southwest Texas.

Goran Dragic

Dragic is the perfect back-up point man. He hustles for loose balls and is a willing and relatively competent passer. His jump shot is streaky but can be effective in limited minutes. He’s not a great defender (though spelling Steve Nash may have made him seem like one) and will occasionally sell out for a steal but isn’t going to get beat of the dribble on every possession either. His greatest attribute (always a back-handed compliment) is his effort level. At 25, Dragic may not develop into an all-star floor general, but his motor could easily earn him minutes on most NBA teams. His problem this year, though, may just be the Rockets’ draft-day acquisition of Johnny Flynn.

Johnny Flynn

Flynn, chosen 6th overall, joins the Rockets already extensive collection of 2009 draft lottery busts (Thabeet #2, Jordan Hill #8, and Terrence Williams #11). Much like the rest of this breakfast club, Flynn’s NBA career thus far can only be graded as an incomplete. He’s an extraordinary athlete with blow by speed and an impressive vertical. The form on his jump shot is textbook, and he’s creative around the basket. He’s also only six feet tall (5’11” according to some). And while he has good handles, he tends to over-dribble and turn the ball over, isn’t a great passer, and doesn’t often (enough) look to involve his teammates. Although he seems to have the potential to develop into a good defender (strength, lateral quickness, etc.), he certainly hasn’t shown any signs of the commitment it takes to do so just yet. Basically, he’s been a terrible NBA player up to this point. But he’s also still only 22. And he was also playing in a dysfunctional triangle offense that, even if functional, would not have suited his skill set. So do I hope the Rockets give him minutes this upcoming season and try to encourage his potential development? Absolutely. Could he continue to miserably inefficient on both sides of the floor and gun himself out of the league in two years? Absolutely.

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