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Old 09-19-2007, 03:37 PM   #1
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Default TSN Rockets Season Preview

Boston may be interesting to watch this year. So might New York. But the real rejuvenation project to keep an eye on is right here with the Rockets. To have two such dominant offensive players like Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming coached by such an offensive Neanderthal as Jeff Van Gundy was criminal. That situation has been rectified immensely with the addition of Rick Adelman as head coach.

Last summer Adelman was relieved of his duties in Sacramento for highly dubious PR reasons, yet it has worked out better for him anyway since he now inherits a team custom made, it would seem, to suit his style. Adelman runs a variation of the Princeton offense that preaches movement and passing over one-on-one isolation play. This system will make tremendous use of not only the exceptional passing of Yao in the low post, but of newcomer Luis Scola at the high post. With the two of them feeding cutters like McGrady and Shane Battier, this team is about to get a whole lot better very, very fast.

Consider this: The Rockets won 52 games last year despite Yao missing 34 outings and with McGrady fighting off his persistent back issues. Toss in the fact that Bonzi Wells provided a constant source of distraction (and rare source of production) and it's amazing this team managed the fifth best record in the NBA.

Now, imagine what they will be capable of with a properly tailored offense to compliment their fairly potent roster.

Okay, so there are still a lot of questions surrounding this team before the season kicks off. First of all is the log-jam at point guard. This team brought back Mike James about a month before bringing back Steve Francis. Both expect significant minutes at the point guard spot, as does last year's starter Rafer Alson. Now there is a chance that Alston is moved before the season stars (there is no shortage of teams that can use a starting point guard) but if he doesn't that is three very large egos trying to share one position on the basketball court.

Another issue surrounds the always-unanswerable question of Wells. While he and Adelman clearly meshed in their one year together in Sacramento, there is no guarantee what kind of commitment Wells is likely to bring to the table this year. The argument has been made that it being a contract year Wells will be back to his old, Sacramento self. But he had an option to opt-out after last season, making that a contract year as well. He can be a devastating addition to any roster in both good ways and bad depending on which side of his personality he opts to let loose. Last year he was the petulant, overweight and unproductive version of himself. The Rockets are hoping that this season sees effective sixth-man candidate they thought they nabbed a year ago.

The most pressing issue surrounding this team, as it is every year, is the health of the two stars. Yao has missed a combined 59 games the last two seasons and he simply looks unable to string together a full NBA campaign. McGrady, on the other hand, tends to either be in and out of the lineup or playing in pain when he forces it. Neither one is really to blame here, sometimes the body just betrays a player no matter how hard they work to prevent it (Bill Walton, anyone), but that doesn't help ease the nerves of the Rockets brass. As much of a concern as the injuries may be, all this team can do is cross its fingers that this year will be a relatively healthy one as they try and contend for a title.

That's the other sticking point for this team. Because of their depth and marquee talent, this team is always going to be considered a dark horse for the Championship, despite never leaving the first round in Yao's tenure with the team. While the addition of Adelman should surely rectify the latter issue, the former is just as big a résumé gap as it is for the two stars. Perhaps the combination can finally start to rewrite the book on all three and satisfy some of the very large expectations awaiting this club.


Last edited by Fudge : 09-29-2007 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 09-29-2007, 11:53 AM   #2
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Default Re: TSN Rockets Season Preview

Great read. What are your thoughts going into the season? As said above, health should be the primary issue in your books. Has to be.
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