The Houston Rockets had a successful offseason, and general manager Daryl Morey is hoping that their early successes will translate directly into the regular season.
As has been the case for the past few offseasons, Morey was busy during the summer. He worked hard to revamp his roster and strengthen it even more than he did prior to last season.
The signings of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik headlined the previous offseason, but Morey made even bigger moves during this most recent free agency.
Overall, Morey was busy.
He upgraded his team through the draft and free agency and has continued to explore options through trading. He appears done for now, but all that could change if the Rockets suddenly have a glaring weakness.
The offseason was kind to the Rockets, but it's time to attach a grade to each of the biggest components of the summer months.
The Rockets had just one pick in the NBA draft (34th overall), and Morey spent that selection on point guard Isaiah Canaan.
Canaan was a volume-scoring point guard at Murray State. His offensive potential was attractive to Morey and head coach Kevin McHale, though he's currently buried on the depth chart behind Lin, Patrick Beverley and Aaron Brooks. It will take a string of injuries for him to see the court this season.
With that being the case, Canaan didn't see a ton of action in the preseason. In his final five preseason contests, he averaged just 6.2 minutes, 1.0 points, 0.4 steals and 0.8 assists per game. He shot a putrid 16.7 percent from the floor.
His poor numbers stem from two things.
For one, this was Canaan's first real experience in the NBA. The game is a lot faster and more aggressive at the NBA level, and Canaan likely didn't know what to expect.
Secondly, he was hardly given enough minutes to establish a rhythm or any consistency at all. This was detrimental to his first NBA action.
Canaan gets a poor grade for his showing, but the Rockets don't get a poor grade for selecting Canaan. He has a ton of potential and just needs the playing time to show it. These two balance the grade out to something semi-respectable.
He averaged 10.8 points and 10.6 rebounds over his past five preseason games, though those numbers stand to increase drastically during the season. I expect his per-game totals to be somewhere around 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Morey caught lightning in a bottle when he signed Omri Casspi.
Casspi was incredible in the preseason, dropping 11.2 points per night on 45.7 percent shooting.
What's even better is that he showed his versatility to succeed at power forward. McHale can now add his name into the fold at the 4, a position that is still in a state of flux.
He's not the biggest body and won't provide big-time rebound numbers, but he's a solid scorer and great team player. The Rockets are a cohesive unit when he's on the court, and that's all that matters.
Other acquisitions like Reggie Williams and Ronnie Brewer were somewhat disappointing, but I'm not all that worried about Brewer's struggles. He was brought on strictly for his defense, and his presence off the bench as a stopper on the perimeter will be a huge boost for Houston. Having lacked that type of player last season, Houston's fans should notice immediate results from having Brewer.
Houston doesn't get a perfect "A+" from me because the numbers really weren't all that gaudy, but they get a grade in the "A range" nonetheless.
The Rockets finished the preseason schedule with an impressive 7-1 record, dropping only the first game 116-115 to the New Orleans Pelicans.
They scored at least 100 points in seven of the eight games. The only time it didn't happen was in their 92-73 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
There were some things to be concerned about overall, though.
For one, the defense still struggled to hold opponents in the low 90s. The opposition scored over 100 points twice and over 95 points three separate times. Their offensive game is good enough to score more than that on most nights, but the defense certainly could have played better.
Also, inconsistencies at the power forward position still exist.
Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones each had pretty poor preseasons, and McHale will have to choose one to roll with for the first couple weeks of the regular season. It'll end up being a decision regarding which player has the hot hand, but neither does at this point.
Even though it's the preseason, it really is hard not to be impressed with the caliber of teams Houston defeated.
Houston figures to finish in the top half of the Western Conference, and the team is proving early on that they can hang with the best of the best.
Overall, it's hard not to be pleased with Houston's offseason.
The poor play of Canaan is really the biggest negative, but I don't weigh that too heavily considering the minuscule role he'll likely have with the team during the regular season.
The performance of the offseason acquisitions and entire team during the preseason is much more important, in my opinion.
Overall Grade: B++