The NBA season is progressing rapidly for the Houston Rockets and the league as a whole. The Christmas Day games have already come and gone, and every team has several games under their belts and a feel for how things are going.
Now the season can really begin in earnest.
The city of Houston, Rockets fans and NBA lovers in general will soon turn their focus toward All-Star festivities in mid-February.
Daryl Morey and the rest of the general managers around the league will have their focus on the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
Who will attempt to start rebuilding? Who will stand pat? Which teams think they are just one player away from seriously contending?
These are the questions that executives must mull over and find answers for.
As for the Rockets, they should firmly entrench themselves in the stand pat camp. There are times when moves need to and should be made. Now is not that time.
Houston's busy offseason is the main reason they should lay low during the upcoming potentially hectic trade period. James Harden, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik have only been in town for a few months.
James Harden has been as good as advertised. The big stage and the opportunity to be the first option on a team hasn't intimidated him in the least. His 25.6 points per game show that he has established himself as one of the premier scorers in the NBA.
Jeremy Lin has struggled a bit in his initial season in Houston, although he is showing signs of turning things around. He had a career-high-tying 38 points on Dec.10 against the San Antonio Spurs. He has also scored 15 points or more in four straight games.
Omer Asik has rolled up his sleeves and gone to work on the boards as expected. Offensively, he has contributed 10.6 points per game as well. Consider how limited he was on that end of the floor before the season began. These are just gravy points. Did anyone expect 13 double-doubles from him this early in the season?
These three guys represent 60 percent of the starting lineup. They were not even members of the Rockets last year.
Cohesion isn't born overnight.
We've seen the NBA All-Star games look ragged due to the fact that the players, although great, haven't had much practice time. The fact that no defense is being played makes it less apparent.
It always takes the Dream Team a while to get rolling until all the guys can get on the same page, and they are the best players in the world.
When the players that are trying to bond and get to know one another are as young and inexperienced as this group is, it will take even longer. They have only played 26 games together.
That being said, the Rockets have accomplished quite a bit. They lead the league in scoring and own an 11-2 record against the Eastern Conference. They are 4-0 against the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks.
There is no such thing as a moral victory, but after their 113-110 loss on Nov. 12, they have to believe they can go toe-to-toe with the Miami Heat. They are a better team now than they were then. So are the Heat, but you get the point.
Houston's performances against the good Western Conference teams still need to be improved, and they are working on it. They pummeled the Memphis Grizzlies 121-96 on Dec. 22.
This Rockets team is still going to make mistakes and take their lumps. They will still play bad defense at times and lose games they should win (on the road at Toronto, for example). However, Daryl Morey should just sit back and let these ingredients marinate for a while.
That doesn't mean that he should refuse to listen if teams pick up the phone and call him. He has to do his job. Now, as far as aggressively pursuing players prior to the trade deadline goes, he needs to just leave that to the other GMs in the league.
All stats are accurate as of 12/26/12.
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