Houston Rockets' 10 Biggest Developments in Season's Early Going
The Rockets made big moves this offseason when they signed Dwight Howard to help solidify their frontcourt. With Howard, James Harden and Jeremy Lin, the Rockets immediately had high expectations for the future.
Holding a 21-11 record this season, the Rockets have been plagued by injuries and have looked to a variety of players to contribute. It has not just been the "Big Three'' of Harden, Howard and Lin who have fans excited and optimistic for the future. Let's take a look at the Rockets' 10 biggest developments thus far this season.
Dwight's Free Throws
After shooting 49 percent from the line last season, Howard is shooting 57 percent this season. Howard is still very shaky from the line, but hey, an 8 percent increase is pretty darn good.
Improvement on the Road
Last year the Rockets finished the season 16-25 on the road. Although we don’t have a huge sample size, Houston is 8-7 on the road with quality wins at Portland, San Antonio and Golden State. If the Rockets are to make a run in the playoffs, they have to continue to win on the road.
Success vs. Spurs
After going 1-3 against the San Antonio Spurs last season, the Rockets have won both games this season. If the Rockets are to catch the Spurs down the stretch, they will have to take care of business against their in-state rivals in their remaining two matchups.
Offense, Offense and More Offense
Winning Despite Injuries
Despite having an inury-riddled season so far, the Houston Rockets still hold the fifth seed in the Western Conference standings. Harden, Lin and Omer Asik have all battled injuries, but younger players such as Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones have filled in well.
Emergence of Terrence Jones
Jones, a second-year player out of Kentucky, did not start a single game last season. This year, Jones has started 24 games and is averaging 10.5 points per game. This is a nice surprise for the Rockets, who are using Jones as a nice complement to fellow big man Howard. According to Rahat Huq of ESPN, Jones is slowly becoming a staple of the Houston offense.
Revolving Door at Point Guard
Due to injuries to Lin and Patrick Beverley, the point guard position has been less than stable for the Rockets. Beverley, who filled in nicely while Lin was out, recently suffered a broken hand and will be out four to six weeks. Good news for Rocket fans is Lin is finally healthy again and playing well in his few games back.
Productivity of Chandler Parsons
At 6’9", Parsons presents big matchup problems for opponents. Averaging 17.4 points per game, Parsons has a solid inside game, but we have also seen him become a strong three-point shooter. His flexibility to play small or big has been very effective in the Houston offense.
Big 3 Not so Much
When the Rockets signed Howard, their goal was to complete their version of the “Big Three.” But with Lin and Harden both suffering injuries this season, the Rockets have leaned on other players such as Parsons and Jones to fill in. These two guys have become key players and proved that the Rockets are are a deep team.
The Health of Dwight Howard
The Rockets took a big gamble during the offseason when they signed Dwight Howard to a four-year deal for $88 million. Howard suffered a torn labrum last season and was forced to miss six games. This year, Howard has started every game, the only Rocket to do so. Averaging roughly 18 points and 13 rebounds a game, Howard has all but assured the Houston fans that his injuries are behind him.