Houston Rockets: The Unsung Heroes Will Determine this Season's Fate

Scotty RaubaContributor IJuly 10, 2009

HOUSTON - MAY 10:  Guard Aaron Brooks #0 celebrates a three-point shot with Luis Scola #4 of the Houston Rockets against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on May 10, 2009 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

With the departure of Ron Artest, many have doomed the 2009-2010 season for the Houston Rockets. Most even credit the running with the Lakers after Yao collapsed to Artest. Though he was their leader, and probably deserved some of the credit, he couldn't buy a basket for a majority of those four games without Yao.

Luis Scola, arguably the most underrated player in the league, has the experience needed to lead a team. The 6'8", goofy looking, long haired sophomore is, believe it or not, about to turn 30. In the 2008 Olympics, he played for Argentina. And with Manu Ginobli nowhere near 100 percent, Scola had to carry the nation of Argentina on his back against some of the best players in the universe. The thing is, he succeeded. When it was all said and done, he finished third in the world in scoring.

I can remember seeing Aaron Brooks weekly his senior year at Oregon on Sportscenter. At Oregon, the offense was centered on him, and rightfully so. He averaged nearly 18 points and shot over 40 percent from downtown. When the Rockets drafted him, unlike many, I was not skeptical on his skills. He even got fan favorite Rafer Alston traded, to give him a shot at the starting position. Not many have been disappointed.

Carl Landry, Von Wafer, Kyle Lowry, and Shane Battier. What do they have in common? They were all pivotal parts in the Rockets success last season. This year is their chance to shine. With their two stars from last season gone, and Tracy McGrady coming back from the grave this year, few know what to expect from this squad.

And with newly added Trevor Ariza, who has received many mixed reviews, they should be interesting to watch. It is looking like defense will be their key in this league, and with Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola poised to have breakout years, things could be very interesting.

Playoff team? Maybe not. Challenger of contenders? Definitely so.