The Houston Rockets' two biggest problems last year were back-to-the-basket scoring and their overall subpar point guard play. When it comes to finding a back-to-the-basket scorer, the team is looking into solving that as soon as possible, with free-agent centers Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum on the market.
When it comes to addressing point guards of the future, the options won’t be laid out so plainly.
With a boatload of young forwards, the team will need to add a point guard in the near future if Jeremy Lin doesn’t improve significantly.
I believe that Lin will never improve dramatically and that the team will have to look elsewhere for a floor general to fulfill the organization’s championship aspirations.
Popular belief is that Lin will be starting next to Harden for the near future, but the bottom line is that Harden is eons ahead of Lin in talent and needs a better running mate to bring a ring to Houston. While Linsanity has rotted the brains of many disillusioned fans, the reality is that Lin is not a quality starting point guard in this league.
While Lin won’t have trouble finding 20-25 minutes per game in the league, his lack of foot speed, shaky three-point shot and inability to handle heavy on-ball pressure indicate that he’s more likely to find time on a winner as a reserve guard.
Additionally, Lin is a defensive liability.
Coach Kevin McHale was forced to insert reserve guard Patrick Beverley into the lineup down the stretch of too many games last year, especially against the better point guards in the league. Beverly (and Toney Douglas earlier in the year) also stole minutes from Lin in several games due to Lin’s offensive disappearing acts, which disproves the myth that Lin is an above-average offensive talent.
James Harden’s ability as a passer allows the Rockets to search for a point guard that doesn’t serve as a traditional pass-first guy like Ty Lawson or Rajon Rondo. Jeremy Lin led the team in assists this past season, but he played off the ball often due to Harden’s prowess in the pick-and-roll game.
Houston is built to ascend in the Western Conference with talented wings in Harden and Parsons, along with a bundle of talented youngsters and a ton of space under the cap. However, outside of Harden and Parsons, the rest of the starting spots are all up for grabs.
In the past two seasons, the team has undergone constant changes. But this season’s playoff berth, sparked by the trade for Harden in late October, shows that the team has the capacity to join the league’s elite in the near future. An upgrade at point guard will further the team’s case and show the rest of the league that the Rockets mean business.
If Daryl Morey’s moves in the last couple years have taught us anything, it’s that we should expect the unexpected. While the no-brainer option of Chris Paul would be ideal, Morey has contingency plans for his contingency plans.
Dozens of options will arise, but the quicker he decides to pull the trigger on a deal—whether it be in free agency or via trade—the sooner he’ll be able to build the rest of his squad with certainty.
Finding a backcourt mate for Harden is essential to Houston’s maturation as an offense. Last season, Houston averaged more possessions per game than any other squad and relied on its fast-break offense to create shots. If the team wants to take a step into championship relevance, it’ll need to find a guy that can push the tempo, spread the floor and defend the league’s elite floor generals.