It is another NBA season and it could to be one of the better ones. The speculation is that the Lakers and the Celtics are good enough to give a repeat performance of last years finals. Both are very capable, but other teams have been looking at the formula that both teams used. The Gasol trade to the Lakers gave them a "big three" while the Celts had their threesome from the start of training camp.
That brings me to one of the teams that has decided to use that model and build for a championship run. That would be the "heartbreak kids" known as the Houston Rockets. For years they have underachived and failed to deliver under the Tmac/Yao umbrella. Blame it on injuries, lack of a bench, wrong coach etc. At the end of the day, "you are who they say you are". The addition of Ron Artest, now gives the Rockets a terrible threesome. Here is a look at Artest's impact and the rockets frontcourt.
When healthy the Rockets have fallen partly due to lack of offensive creators besides Tmac. Almost every team but the rockets figured this out untill this season. No disrespect to Derek Anderson and Bonzi Wells, but Artest solves that problem. He is a big 2 gaurd able to pound his man in the post as well as create his own shot from the perimeter. No longer will Tmac and Yao have to face double teams, defences now have to worry about Artest. As for his defence, this former Defensive Player of the Year will make a big impact on the defensive end. He is quick on his feet, physical and relentless, when focused. Add that to a team that has consistently been in the top 5 defensively the last couple of years, and it is safe to say wing players are going to have a tough time scoring.
Ofcourse there is a gamble. He is a very volatile player and is the ticking time bomb as advertised. He could get ejected a couple of times this year or get involved in a fight that costs the rockets. Who knows. The advantage for the rockets is that they got him in the last year of a contract and seeking a pay day. Unless he is not that bright, he will be on his best behaviour.
The resigning of Landry will give the Rockets that energy player of the bench. He is listed at about 6-8, but is very athletic and so far in the preseason has been hitting that outside jumper. Of concern are his knees that was a point of contention in the ofseason. He will be coming off the bench which means he will avoid playing one on one with the Amares, Duncans and Boozers.
Dorsey and Hayes will spell minutes. Dorsey has raw athletiscm and power, but needs to fine tune it. Hayes at 6-6 should not even be considered for a spot, but what he lacks in offence, he makes up for with tough one on one defence and moving well without the ball.
2nd year player Luis Scola is the key. Last year he showed off what he could do when given minutes. He has an akward post up game built on fakes, twists and turns. His rebounding could be better but he is a scraper and a fighter. Last year he played every game with passion and effort. His weakness would be his finishing around the basket. He has the ability to finish strong but tends to prefer lay ups, which is some cases gets blocked. As the presumptive starter he will matchup with the likes of Boozer, Duncan etc. He might not get you 20 and 10, but he will just play with that Argentinian flair and pinache.
How do they matchup with the other teams out west? I am glad you asked.....
Jazz have eliminated the Rockets the last two years. Adding Artest should help, but as long as Deron Williams continues to grow like the incredible Hulk and is matched up with Rafer, it's not going to happen. If the rockets put Artest to guard DWill, then that could be the difference.
Against the Hornets, same as above, the weakness will be at the point guard spot. Chris Paul would be too much for Rafer.
Against the Spurs and the Suns, point guard play will determine the series and Rafer is no Nash or Parker.
The rockets match up well with the Lakers. Point guard play will be negated as the ball will be in Kobe's hand a lot. Last year during the 22 game winning streak, Battier did one of the best defensive jobs ever witnessed on the MVP. Now throw Artest into the mix and Kobe will be hard pressed to deliver. At the end of the day as Kobe goes, so go the Lakers.
At the end of the day this is a make or break season for the team known as the Houston Rockets. No more excuses.