How Much Should Houston Rockets Fans Read into the Preseason?
Preseason is nearly over. The highly anticipated season opener on Halloween night against the Detroit Pistons is a week away.
Houston Rockets fans have seen a handful of preseason games, but how much should they read into these exhibition contests?
The preseason has answered a few looming questions regarding the rotation. We've also seen a few young players struggle to see the court.
Fans shouldn't take too much away from the win-loss record. However, there are plenty of things that have been revealed from these preseason games.
Don't Worry About Jeremy Lin....Yet
It's been somewhat disturbing, but Jeremy Lin has had an ice pack the size of a bowling ball on both sides of his knee throughout preseason when he's sitting on the bench.
He's playing in the games, but it's clear he isn't always full-strength when cutting and jumping. Fans know he's still recovering from knee surgery...that wasn't a secret.
What is unsettling is we haven't quite seen the Linsanity Jeremy Lin yet: the one who burst onto the scene in his first few weeks of NBA action last season. He's still cutting out a role for himself on the team, and his teammates will learn his game more as the season goes.
Lin's overall effectiveness on the court, while it hasn't been great in preseason, shouldn't be a concern. The concern lies more in his knee and if it'll hold up for the season.
Depth is a Strength
The Rockets have a distinct advantage over most (if not all) opponents on a nightly basis. Not that it's a good idea, but the team could legitimately play 10-12 players a night. Not many teams have a bevy of young, high first-round picks coming off the bench as role players, but this team does.
Even the addition of Carlos Delfino, which seemed odd at the time, appears to have paid off because of his ability to stretch the floor and play multiple positions.
Kevin McHale will have options at his disposal if the five on the court at the time aren't getting it done. There will be a constant air of competition around the Rockets' second unit, and it could prove to be a major advantage for the team.
Will the Real Kevin Martin Please Stand Up?
Kevin Martin seemed like a goner this offseason, especially when general manager Daryl Morey began to overhaul the roster from top to bottom. He missed the last 26 games of the season last year and wasn't missed all that much when he was out.
The overhaul has given the shooting guard new life apparently, and K-Mart has surprisingly been one of the biggest bright spots of the preseason. He's back to scoring efficiently, and he looks to have more pep in his step. That's especially encouraging because his struggles seem to always be linked to confidence issues.
How many games will the Rockets win this year?
Martin is in a contract year, and as fans should know, that's salary cap gold to NBA general managers. His expiring contract of nearly $12.5 million this season will be attractive as the trade deadline approaches. Martin is valuable to Houston, whether he's contributing to a Rockets playoff run or bringing back more assets in a trade.
Frontcourt is Solid and Terrence Jones is Legit
The Rockets were too small and overall lacked talent in the frontcourt in a big way last season. The additions of Omer Asik, Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas this offseason have completely changed the makeup of the frontcourt.
The Rockets have legit shot-blockers in Asik, Jones and third-year power forward Patrick Patterson. Motiejunas and Jones can score all over the floor. Their frontcourt players are active rebounders and possess great length.
None of these players are superstars, but they have upgraded this team in an area of desperate need. Rookie Terrence Jones in particular has stood out this preseason, clearly showing he has the most upside of anyone in this group.
Royce White Not Ready Yet?
The drama of the Rockets' offseason has centered around rookie Royce White. Fans have probably heard about the rookie's struggles with anxiety by now. He came into camp late getting clearance from the NBA for a near-flightless travel schedule. Since then, he hasn't seen the court much.
White finally debuted in over 20 uneventful minutes against the Dallas Mavericks, but then he disappeared in the next game when Kevin McHale tightened the rotation and played what looked to be his regular rotation of players.
It's hard to read into what's going on behind the scenes with White and the Rockets. If he's not going to play right away, it might make sense for him to get time in the D-League. Houston has done that before, even with their lottery picks.
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