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[SportingNews] 2010-2011 Houston Rockets: Preview

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by rockets247, Oct 18, 2010.

  1. rockets247

    rockets247 Rookie

    Sep 13, 2010
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    Houston Rockets: 2010-2011 team preview

    Sporting News
    Leading up to the start of the season, Sporting News previews an NBA team each day, counting backward from Sean Deveney’s preseason power poll.
    Rockets waiting in the wings for future additions

    It’s one long, positive step forward for the Rockets to enter this season with their roster full of solid players who are mostly healthy.

    Yao Ming, who hasn’t played since breaking his left foot in May 2009, is back after reconstructive surgery last year, although the team has said it will limit his minutes. Aaron Brooks returns after winning the NBA’s Most Improved Player award last year. And Kevin Martin, after arriving in Houston midseason via trade, figures to be more comfortable and productive having gone through an offseason regimen and training camp with the club.

    Yet while Houston looks to have returned to the level of a playoff team, there are still strides to be made to become a true championship contender.

    “I think we’re a quality team with a lot of depth, great veterans, good youth, guys who can improve,” Rockets general manager Daryl Morey says. “We feel good about where the team is at. Having said that, we’re looking for more.”

    Besides acquiring Brad Miller, the organization tiptoed out of this summer’s free-agent frenzy by only dabbling here and there with the roster. The truth is, the Rockets have their sights set on bigger game like Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul.

    If Yao can be effective, the Rockets figure to be significantly improved from last season’s 42-40 squad that missed the playoffs. They re-signed key free agents in forward Luis Scola (five years, $47 million) and guard Kyle Lowry (four years, $24 million) and added forward Patrick Patterson with the 14th pick in the draft. Houston also added shooting guard Courtney Lee as part of a four-team trade that sent wing Trevor Ariza to New Orleans.

    The Rockets wisely decided to cut bait with Tracy McGrady last season just so they could subtract his whopping $22 million contract from their salary-cap figure. Morey and his staff calculated that they were better off moving McGrady and forward Carl Landry in February at the trade deadline, bringing in Martin and setting themselves up for perhaps an even bigger move down the line.

    Houston has stocked its roster with solid veterans (Shane Battier, Chuck Hayes, Jared Jeffries) and young talent (Aaron Brooks, Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill) who can either play key roles on a playoff team or be moved because they are contract-friendly players.

    The Rockets also have a pair of valuable assets in two future first-round picks from the Knicks that came in the deal for McGrady.

    Yao may need to take more nights off than before, but Miller is a legitimate backup big man who can score. And with Brooks coming into his own and a belief that Martin has room to grow, the Rockets look to be back in the playoff mix in the contentious West.

    “With a lot of guys like Yao Ming and Shane Battier (nearing the end of their contracts) and the lockout (looming) next year, we’re trying to make this a special year and go as far in the playoffs as we can,” Morey says. “As a non-playoff team, we have to prove ourselves. I think it will take 50 wins to get there. Home-court (advantage) in the playoffs is the kind of goal you shoot for.”

    However, to get to the next level as a championship contender, it will take more. That’s why the Rockets have been preparing for the next step.

    “Our owner (Leslie Alexander) has always been someone who is not afraid of the big move to get us as close to the championship as possible,” Morey says. “We are set up (to deal). Those opportunities come rarely, sometimes not at all in a given year.

    “I can’t talk about specific players. But we feel like whenever any trade comes along, we’ve got assets, maybe more than anybody else. Upgrading to a championship level is always difficult. But we’re ready when that time comes.”

    —Fran Blinebury, Sporting News Yearbooks

    Deveney’s take
    The Rockets nearly scraped their way to a playoff berth last year, and will have the benefit of a full training camp with new guys like Gs Kevin Martin and Courtney Lee. But while Martin will be expected to carry a heavy scoring load, Houston’s fortunes still rest on the tiny bones in the foot of C Yao Ming, who missed all of last year after foot surgery. The Rockets will start off the year limiting Yao to 24 minutes per game, but they will need more from him as the season goes on in order to get to the playoffs.

    View from the other bench
    “How high up in the pecking order [the Rockets] go will all revolve around Yao’s health and how much his playing time will be limited. ... They need Yao to be close to his old self because he is the only real All-Star they have on the roster and you don’t really make noise in the playoffs without those elite level players.

    “There’s a lot of potential in that backcourt with Aaron Brooks improving fast and Kevin Martin as a guy who can get you 30 points and 10-12 free throws on a given night. But they both have to make significant upgrades on defense. They’ll be a playoff team, but I don’t think they’ll have home-court (advantage).”

    Inside the numbers
    .917. Kevin Martin’s free throw percentage (100-of-109) over a 13-game stretch from Feb. 26-March 22. Martin became just the eighth Rocket to make at least 100 free throws in the span of 13 games.

    10. Consecutive games in which Houston scored at least 100 points (Oct. 28-Nov. 17), the franchise’s longest streak since 1995-96.

    39. Consecutive games in which Aaron Brooks hit a 3-pointer, topping Luther Head’s team record of 37 straight games set in 2006-07.
  2. coachbadlee

    coachbadlee Member

    Feb 5, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Kevin Martin is an absolute nightmare at the free throw line!!! :eek:

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