The Houston Rockets open training camp with a lot of new faces. There was a lot of turnover last season, and there is a lot of youth and inexperience on the roster now.
Omer Asik, Carlos Delfino and Jeremy Lin joined the team via free agency. Terrence Jones, Royce White and Jeremy Lamb are the three talented first-round draft picks.
The Rockets are going to be hard-pressed to learn on the fly and play beyond their years. Chemistry must be developed quickly as the aforementioned inexperience and unfamiliarity with one another will be two of the bigger obstacles they will have to contend with.
Check out the report for predictions, news and all things Rockets.
The biggest news of late is the fact that, according to The Houston Chronicle, Royce White will be able to rejoin the team today.
This will be a fluid situation between White and the Rockets from now on. The Rockets are doing their best to be accommodating and make White's adjustment to the league as easy as it can be.
White is doing his part by paying for the bus himself and by being open and honest about his Generalized Anxiety Disorder. He's serving as an ambassador for those who suffer from this condition as well.
Hopefully, this unconventional situation works out well for everyone both on and off the court.
Update: Oct. 16, 2012 by Stephen Babb
Coming on the heels of Jeremy Lin admitting he wasn't playing at 100 percent capacity just yet, the up-and-coming point guard also sat out Monday's preseason loss to the Dallas Mavericks. The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen suggests we shouldn't be worrying too much, though:
Jeremy Lin's day off part of the scheduled plan for October while coming back from the knee, McHale said.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) October 15, 2012
Scheduled though it may have been, we should keep an eye on Lin early on this season.
There's little doubt he'll run the offense effectively, distributing and scoring like one of the league's better starters. The real question is how well he'll be able to defend, whether he'll have the quickness to keep up with the likes of Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker—the kind of speedy point guards he's due to face often in the Western Conference.
---End of Update---
Update: Oct. 10, 2012 by Stephen Babb
Though there haven't been any notable setbacks for Jeremy Lin, nor is it fair to say he's completely healed from knee surgery he had in April. The assumption has been that the emergent point guard was just fine, but he's saying otherwise (via Ultimate Rockets' Jonathan Feigen):
My speed and my explosiveness and my agility (are not) there yet. I’m still trying to recover from knee surgery and get to where I was pre-surgery. I probably won’t get to play too much. Hopefully, as the preseason goes on I’ll get to play more and more to build that endurance.
There's still no reason to believe he will be anything but healthy as the season kicks into full gear, but we shouldn't be surprised if his game looks a bit limited early on. In addition to growing accustomed to a new team and system, Lin is also trying to recover his athleticism.
---End of Update---
There weren't a lot of injuries to speak of, and the ones that were suffered are being overcome. Jason Friedman of Rockets.com reported that Terrence Jones had tweaked his ankle Saturday, which is why he was limited in Saturday's scrimmage. He's still managed to make a favorable impression.
The big man had been sidelined with an infection, but antibiotics have seemed to do the trick, and he returned to action Saturday.
Livingston is no stranger to injuries, so a sore groin muscle is nothing compared to what he's been through. It has limited him a lot in camp, but he's getting closer to being able to get back on the court. He is one of the few players on the roster with substantial experience.
(1) Jeremy Lin (2) Toney Douglas
It's still early and things will continue to develop at every position, but the point guard position appears to be settled. Lin is the starter of course, and Douglas will spell him. When asked about Scott Machado on Twitter, Jason Friedman of Rockets.com summed it up this way.
@tayraffic Scott has played well, but Lin will start and Douglas will likely back him up. I expect Scott to be 3rd string and get lots of— Jason Friedman (@RocketsJCF) October 6, 2012
@tayraffic reps in the D-league early on— Jason Friedman (@RocketsJCF) October 6, 2012
(1) Kevin Martin (2) Jeremy Lamb (3) Carlos Delfino
At the end of last year, the thought of Kevin Martin leading the way at the shooting guard spot and being happy with things would have been shocking to say the least. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle provides some insight.
Jeremy Lamb will show that he can hold his own, and Carlos Delfino will provide experience and solid play while being the glue guy he has always been.
(1) Chandler Parsons (2) Carlos Delfino (3) Marcus Morris (4) Terrence Jones
Parsons had a solid rookie season and is ready to take his game to higher levels. Delfino will again show his value and versatility by providing steadying veteran experience. Marcus Morris has been working out in preparation for playing at the three spot, which should definitely pay dividends.
Terrence Jones versatility will allow him to step in at small forward as well.
(1) Patrick Patterson (2) Terrence Jones (3) Donatas Montiejunas (4) Royce White
Patterson appears ready to take the starting spot and put a stranglehold on it. He's over the injuries that plagued him last year. Jones' versatility will allow him to see the floor here as well. Montiejunas must overcome the effects of his infection—another hurdle to jump as he makes his transition. White will be playing catch up now that he's back with the team.
(1) Omer Asik (2) Donatas Montiejunas (3) Patrick Patterson (4) Greg Smith (5) Terrence Jones
Asik has been as good as advertised defensively and continues to put in plenty of hard work on his offensive abilities. He's trying to become more instinctive and natural with the ball in his hands.
Montiejunas needs to bulk up a little bit, but he can cause matchup problems for big men with his quickness. Patterson has the size to move over to the center spot and mix it up as does Greg Smith.
Jones could slide over there when Kevin McHale goes small or if they're in a bind due to foul trouble or injury.
This one goes without saying. Jeremy Lin's debut for the Rockets will be one of the most highly anticipated events of the NBA season.
His every move on the court will be scrutinized to the highest degree. There will be a lot of pressure from a lot of directions.
Everything from how he handles the offense to how he handles himself in the media in good times and bad will be monitored by everyone.
He will trend on Twitter, he will be the lead story on SportsCenter. You name it, it will happen.
He's level-headed and has a nice perspective for someone so young. He'll be fine.
It would be nice if all of the youth on the roster could gain the necessary experience required to make it in the league without having to go through all of the bumps, bruises and adversity that come with the lessons that they will soon learn.
Since that's not possible, the work on the boards is an area where they could make some strides. Last season, Houston was 14th in the league in offensive rebounding, 17th on the defensive boards and 15th in total rebounds.
They were in the middle of the pack in that area for the most part.
The Rockets are looking to be more of a running team that pushes the tempo. Snagging more rebounds defensively will increase their opportunities to get out on the break.
Win-Loss Prediction: 44-38
The Houston Rockets almost made the playoffs last year. A win here or there against inferior teams would have done the trick. This year will have a similar feel to it.
All of the new, inexperienced faces will create a lot of peaks and valleys. At times they will play great; at times the youth will show through at inopportune times.
Scoring Leader: Kevin Martin — 20.1 ppg
Things have taken a turn for the better between Martin and the Rockets. If he remains in the fold he will bounce back from the down year he had last season and be the top scorer for a really balanced scoring team.
Assists Leader: Jeremy Lin — 7.0 apg
The Rockets will look to run and will have a lot of capable scorers. Jeremy Lin will take full advantage. Kevin Martin will return to form, Chandler Parsons is a budding young star with lots of potential. Patrick Patterson and Omer Asik will finish well around the rim for him.
Rebounds Leader: Omer Asik — 11.1 rpg
The big fella will more than make his presence felt on the boards this season. This is one of the primary reasons Houston signed him. He averaged 5.3 rebounds per game last season in only 14.7 minutes a game with the Chicago Bulls. It shouldn't be hard for him to double those numbers since he'll be playing more than twice the minutes.
It's obviously Jeremy Lin who is at the top spot here. He will garner the bulk of the attention in Houston as well as when the Rockets go on the road. As we established earlier, Lin will be fine. He will hold his own on he court and take everything in stride to the best of his ability off the court.
The Royce White situation will remain a close second. Hopefully his return to practice goes smoothly. Arrangements have been made for him to take the bus to games as close as San Antonio and as far away as Memphis.
White has said this will help him manage his illness by allowing him to maintain his routine when it to comes to sleeping and taking care of himself.
Hopefully he is able to keep things under control since he won't have to fly as much as he originally thought. When he does board the plane, everyone hopes he can arrive at the next destination without any major difficulties.
Here's what a lot of people will think of the situation, and it won't help at all.
This is more like it:
And finally one more from White's perspective.
— Royce White (@Highway_30) October 7, 2012