Re: My prediction for 2009-2010
If only Yao Ming was healthy... were a couple pieces away from serious contenders. I believe if we had a legit interior defense (like yao ming provided) and a distributor at the shooting guard position (like a t-mac; because brooks is more of a scorer and we dont have any other distributors on the team). Imagine that squad...
Anyways if we look at the roster, we still have a great wing defender tandem in Ariza - Battier and in my opinion is a major upgrade defensively over the artest-battier tandem. Artest obviously lost a step or two because he was getting burned by the quicker guards like Kobe and Roy where we had to put Battier. The only time Artest was an advantage was againts Lebron. But point is we still have that wing defender tandem, and we will have to wait and see what kind of offense Ariza can bring.
Ariza/ White/ Budinger
Brooks-Battier-Ariza-Scola is a solid squad. As I mentioned the battier-ariza wing tandem on defense has to be at the top of the league. Scola is hustler defender and will get a lot of opportunity on offense. Let me note, WE WILL NOT LOSE LOW POST PRESENCE. Scola will provide that and this is his opportunity. This is a guy that averaged 28 points a game in the olympics (if im not mistaken). We all saw the stride Brooks took last season as a scorer. Expect him to continue that stride by being more consistent of offense. The guy can light up the score board. He just needs to remain consistent and he needs to develop his point guard skills as a floor general.
Landry will remain solid off the bench. 9/5 in the 20mpg he gets off the bench. He will hustle and will remain shooting a high percentage because he will be on the paint looking to dunk it every chance he can get. Will we see an improvement? I doubt we see a breakthrough but he will have that opportunity and he is solid regardless. Lowry is a solid backup point guard. He is not much of a scorer. He is a decent shooter and he is probably working on that over the summer. He is a good floor general off the bench and he is also a solid defender at his position. Chuck Hayes is somewhat solid atleast at the minutes he is given. He might start out the season as the starting center just because we already know what he can do. He is strong and he has quick hands. He hustles and rebounds but you really dont want him getting over 20 minutes a game. He is a solid rotational player.
What's might keep Houston from the playoffs is the uncertainties at every other position. Lets start with the obvious, the center position. Dorsey has been doing very well in the summer league. If he can be a double digit rebounder while being a solid interior defender, he will undoubtedly be the starter and he will see solid minutes. But that is a huge question mark. Another player after that center position is the newly acquired David Andersen. He won numerous championships in the different professional leagues he has played for and he has also represented Australia in the olympics. He is a solid 6'11 -7'0 center. I haven't seen him play but from the 08-09 season statistics in the euroleague heres what i got. He is not a big scorer averaging 11ppg off the bench in 21mpg. He seems to be a shooter. In 23 games he shot 21/52 from beyond the arch for 40% and 54% from the field. I don't know much about his defense but he only averaged 4 rebounds a game which is unacceptable. He seems to be another soft euro unfortunately, we'll have to see how he adjusts in the NBA.
Then there's the remaining young guys. James White looks promising. Look for him the fill the void Von Wafer is leaving. From the few minutes he showed last season, he seems to be a capable shooter and he has really been working on his shot in the off season. Chase Budinger has shown a lot in the summer league but you really can't tell a lot during the summer. But he is shooting at a high percentage. Hopefully he can put up some points at the role and minutes he get. I expect to atleast score at the a pretty good efficiency. Another young talent. I haven't seen him play but he has the body similar to Dwyane Wade. He averaged over 20ppg his last couple season in college (26.2 last season) shooting just under 50% from the field and around 38% from beyond the arch. He has the potential. We'll see how he adjusts in the NBA and to his role. We will see if Budinger and Taylor can prove to be steals in the second round.
Overall, Im still optimistic. I mean the right thing to say would be that were always looking to win a championship but we are in no position at all this season and the team future in terms of when we can be competitive again is questionable. We have some young pieces however to look forward to. I still think we have a chance at the 8th seed. Last season Utah was the 8th seed winning 48 games in the regular season. It will be close imo.