After another disappointing loss in the first round against the Utah Jazz, the Houston Rockets went home again empty handed. General manager Daryl Morey knew he needed just a little more on top of Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady for perfection. So the Rockets went out this offseason and brought in Ron Artest, the veteran small forward from the Kings.
I will agree with a lot of people saying that this was an ideal trade for the Rockets. The only significant loss was guard Bobby Jackson, but Houston has plenty of point guards to cover for him.
So the big question is: Will Ron Artest prove to be the missing ingredient to this high-powered offensive team? I absolutely think so.
The last couple of seasons, the Rockets have really relied on T-Mac and Yao to pick up the scoring, which they have. But when struck, the team struggled a bit. Some players stepped up in little ways, like Shane Battier, Luis Scola, and Rafer Alston, but that's not what they were looking for. The Rockets needed a player who they could trust to make that important shot, other than McGrady. I believe Ron Artest is that man.
Artest shows great potential on defense and averaged 2.1 steals per game last year, a category in which the Rockets ranked 16th in the NBA last year. You can rely on Artest to guard a "star" player on the other team. He can also provide plenty of offensive scoring, as he averaged 20 points per game last year.
Artest was once known as the NBA's best "swingman," which shows his versatility to play different positions. He has also come out with a couple media statements saying that he wants to take away a bit of the load off of T-Mac and Yao.
My prediction for the Rockets this year is that they finish first in the Southwest Division with an overall record of 57-25. Ron Artest will also have a big role in the Rockets offense, which is a key to their success.
So what do you think? Artest is a bust and the Rockets finish near the bottom half of the conference, Artest was a great addition and the Rockets will start winning, or the Rockets do well, but Artest has little to do with it?