Jul 21st, 2007 by ToddAllen
Time to add a 4th team to the dice roll of predicting who comes out of the West. For the last few years, you look at the rosters and you think it will come down to the Mavs, Spurs and Suns (in alphabetical order) with the outcome to be determined in the playoffs.
It looks like its time to add the Houston Rockets to that list. There’s a couple of chronically cranky players that make this a little conditional on playing to potential, but the starting line-up is likely:
Steve Francis, Tracy McGrady, Shane Battier, Luis Scola and Yao Ming.
And key bench players could include:
Mike James, Rafer Alston (if he isn’t traded), Dikembe Mutombo (still a solid back-up), Bonzi Wells
With Wells, you have to think Adelman knows how to utilize and motivate him. With Francis, you have to think a return to more of a running game will help. With Scola… well, this one is taken on faith by the universally high opinion everyone who’s played against him seems to have.
Still, if you subscribe to the “three musketeers” theory that you need three all-stars to win it all (or 2 all-stars and a _solid_ third option), you’ve got a lot of names to stick next to Yao and McGrady.
Chemistry counts, but it looks like the Western Conference just got uglier to survive.
Now before you Jazz fans get all over me, the Jazz are not the killer on paper that they are on the court. That’s the benefit you get from Farmer Sloan on the bench. Jerry runs a well-oiled machine and uses his weapons very well… and chemistry counts.