After a summer league campaign where the Rockets went 5-0, there seemed to be plenty of promise and potential in Houston's "young guns", rookies and sophomores alike.
Sharpshooter Chase Budinger lit up the scoreboard, unexpectedly, finishing with a stellar average of over 18 points per game.
Sophomore Joey Dorsey cleaned the glass like no one else in Las Vegas, racking up a league-leading 15 boards per game, including a massive 20 rebound performance against the Lakers.
He also finished with almost three blocks per contest, establishing himself as a dominant presence in the paint.
So are we ready to see these guys light it up in the big time? Why not?
Of course, no one is expecting 6'7'' Dorsey to challenge Dwight Howard for his rebounding title in the upcoming season, but I see him getting at least 15-20 minutes per game with Yao out and the lowly David Andersen a shoo-in for starting center.
But Houston, it seems, has already been relegated to mediocrity and a season dwelling amongst the league's peasantry.
So can these guys salvage a sinking ship?
Jermaine Taylor underperformed this summer, or maybe his anticlimactic efforts were a result of all the hype surrounding him being the "third-best scorer in college basketball".
It certainly seemed that way, as Taylor was knocking down just over 26 points per game for UCF, more than enough reason to expect a legit Summer League campaign.
Now that Budinger and Taylor, two thirds of Houston's draft day winnings, have been officialy signed to multi-year contracts, we may have a chance to see the rookies in abundance next season with the injuries of kingpins Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady.
Both shooting guards, they will feel right at home due to vacancies in the backcourt rotation, although newly acquired Trevor Ariza is expected to start at shooting guard next season.
Scola will almost definitely relish the starting PF position, with Dorsey ably backing him up off the bench.
However, the frontcourt is almost as thin as it was at the beginning of this offseason, and respectable big men are in short supply as the free agent market dwindles.
Andersen is not capable of playing 40 minutes in 82 games, and Houston will be trounced in the paint by letting Chuck Hayes play 20 minutes at center.
But we can rely on our newly acquired rookies for some offensive spark off the bench to a team that will struggle scoring next season.
Defensively, Houston has little, if any, problems on the perimeter with Ariza and Battier guarding the key.
And recently, the bench and its rotation have been more of an asset than a setback. Houston's troubles remain in the paint and on the offensive end.
So do expect Taylor and Budinger to score next season—because they're gonna have to.
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