Dwight Howard and other newcomers have helped the Rockets become contenders out West.
General manager of the Houston Rockets Daryl Morey had a busy offseason bringing in new faces to fill out his roster, and some signings have worked out better than others.
Many would argue that the Rockets had the best summer of any team in the NBA, inking All-Star center Dwight Howard, the premier free agent on the market, to a four-year deal. The Rockets also welcomed a handful of other new players to start off the new Harden-Howard era in Houston.
Guys like Omri Casspi, Francisco Garcia and Aaron Brooks are all key role players on coach Kevin McHale's bench. Other signings like Reggie Williams and Marcus Camby didn't quite pan out.
Here are the initial reactions to each signing and the revised grades a quarter of the way through the season. After all, hindsight is 20/20.
All stats are from ESPN.com, unless otherwise noted, correct as of 12/10/13.
The addition of Dwight Howard makes Houston a legitimate contender.
After two years of drama, Dwight Howard ended the Dwightmare and signed on with the Rockets. Houston got its second superstar to pair up with the Beard himself, James Harden.
Howard was arguably the greatest free-agent signing of the summer for any team league-wide. Despite a lackluster year in Lakerland last season, he was such a dominant force back in the Orlando days, leading the Magic to a 2009 Finals appearance.
It's still too early to determine whether Howard was a significant signing for the Rockets that will go down in history as an all-time great. That will be decided come playoff time over the next few seasons.
However, based upon his early-season performance in year one with Houston, it looks like Dwight has been a great fit. His interior presence around the rim saves the Rockets' below-average defense, and he has been able to be effective offensively in the low post and on the pick-and-roll.
The duo of Howard and Harden puts the Rockets in the top tier of teams in the NBA. Although Dwight's numbers have not been quite as good as his dominant days in Florida, he is still playing well with Houston as the team continues to develop chemistry.
Original Grade: A+
Current Grade: A
Omri Casspi has been a pleasant surprise for the Rockets all season long.
At the time of the signing, many Rockets fans didn't think much of Casspi. Still drunk from the Howard honeymoon, any other free agent seemed miniscule.
After two seasons with both the Sacramento Kings and Cleveland Cavaliers, the Israeli forward had become irrelevant. He has revived his career in Houston, particularly because of his 40.3 three-point percentage as a stretch 4 in a fast-paced offense.
During training camp, I personally thought that Casspi was fighting just for a spot on the team. He proved me and others wrong, performing spectacularly in the preseason and earning himself a spot not just on the team, but also as a key contributor in the rotation.
No one thought twice about the Casspi signing over summer, but now he has proven that he belongs in the Rockets' rotation.
Original Grade: C-
Current Grade: B
The Rockets had to bring Garcia back this year after a great playoff performance against OKC.
Garcia ended last season in Houston after a trade with the Sacramento Kings. He gave a brilliant performance in the playoff series versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. During the offseason, the Rockets declined his team option and re-signed him to a new contract bringing him back on board.
This season, Garcia has not been as critical as he was throughout the playoffs. He's only shooting 35.1 percent from deep, which is low for him considering the three-pointer is the most valuable part of his game.
Even though he's off to a slow start, Garcia still has time to turn things around. Morey brought him back because he already knows the Rockets offense, and his veteran leadership is helpful in a young locker room.
Original Grade: B+
Current Grade: C+
AB has filled in quite nicely with all of the Rockets' backcourt injuries.
Just like Garcia, Brooks' team option was declined, and he then re-signed a new contract over the summer. Brooks is a fan favorite thanks to his glory days with Houston during the Yao Ming era. He won the Most Improved Player Award back in 2009 before getting traded to Phoenix.
After a rocky road with the Suns, Kings and China, he found his way back to Houston. The signing was somewhat questionable because the Rockets already had two solid point guards in Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley, and they also drafted another one (Isaiah Canaan).
However, due to injuries to Beverley, Lin and Harden early on this season, Brooks has filled in nicely in the Rockets' rotation. He's shooting 45.8 percent from behind the arc to help provide some of the scoring with all of these players missing time.
He may not play a pivotal role all season long, but he's definitely a good guy to have on your bench.
Original Grade: C-
Current Grade: B-
Ronnie Brewer has been a non-factor this season with the Rockets.
One of the Rockets' biggest needs this offseason was perimeter defense. The Rockets struggled mightily on defense last season, giving up the third most points per game. That's why Morey brought in Ronnie Brewer.
Brewer is a defensive-minded guard, something the Rockets didn't have. He is a great defender on the perimeter, while James Harden and Jeremy Lin are below average in that category. It seemed like a good fit; however, Brewer rarely sees the floor.
Averaging just 4.7 minutes per game in his nine games played all season, Brewer has been a non-factor for the Rockets this season. The problem is his lack of an offensive game.
The Rockets love to run up the scoreboard, leading the league with 107.5 points per contest. When Brewer is in the game, he completely disrupts the offensive rhythm because he can't shoot or drive efficiently. When the opposition doesn't have to account for him, it messes up the spacing and flow entirely.
It was a good idea, but Brewer has not fit in at all in Houston. The Rockets should explore their trade options, or at most just put Brewer in the game for last minute defensive purposes.
Original Grade: C+
Current Grade: D
Reggie Williams and Marcus Camby never got a shot to play with the Rockets this season after signing contracts during the offseason.
Morey signed both Reggie Williams and Marcus Camby to small deals over the summer, Williams for his three-point shooting and Camby for his veteran wisdom.
Currently, Williams is a free agent unable to find work. Camby had season-ending surgery on his left foot before the season began. The Rockets waived him, but he informed the team that he does not intend to retire and hopes to rejoin the team possibly later this year.
Morey may have just signed these players to see them perform in training camp and the preseason. He gave them a chance to try and make a spot on the team but decided to go in a different direction.
Original Grade: C+
Current Grade: Incomplete
Original Grade: C-
Current Grade: F