The Houston Rockets will not become NBA champions this year or even make the conference finals. Forget the fact that they are 3-0 right now.
I was really convinced when they beat the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies, the league’s last place teams, and they beat an aging Dallas team that they probably prepared for instead of the opening Grizzly game.
Anyway, my point that I will make is that the Rockets will be a regular season team only. Injuries (or maybe suspensions) will occur and arguments will happen, especially if the Rockets don’t win. I am here to look beyond the stats and instead look at the intangibles.
The Rockets have little beyond Ron Artest, recently acquired in a trade with the Kings, Yao Ming, a dominant yet injury-prone center, and Tracy McGrady, their franchise player.
Rafer Alston is an inconsistent shooter who improved his defense last year and Luis Scola is a rebounding force, yet, was afraid of committing offensive fouls in the paint.
Also, the Rockets decided to improve their depth at an unneeded position. The front-court is stacked but only behind Artest and McGrady. They have Shane Battier, a SF, who might be forced in as a PF, and Brent Barry, Luther Head, and Steve Francis.
Brent Barry is a better Luther Head and Steve Franchise is no longer in the plans so he won’t likely contribute.
Beyond that, Yao Ming injuries have devastated the franchise late in the year and most likely they went into the playoffs without him. He hasn’t played 60 games in the last three years and all were throughout the postseason as well.
Ming rebounds, scores, assists, and leads the Rockets. He is 7’5" and incredibly hard to stop. That doesn’t matter much when he isn’t there when it matters most.
Yao Ming recently bashed Ron Artest after the trade and rightfully so. Artest responded saying Yao doesn’t know a black person from the ghetto or something. Not a smart thing to say to the fan favorite Ming.
He causes problems and why will he stop? The Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers were legit teams with playoff possibilities and after him were complete messes. So I pray Rockets won’t be the same way.
Tracy McGrady was one of the top players in the league. His numbers have declined steadily each year from 32 points down to 24 points last year. This trend likely will continue especially with Artest and Ming No. 1 and 2 scorers.
McGrady can hopefully keep above 20 points and avoid the injury bug. If so, McGrady will have yet another consistent season.
Let’s say Artest causes no trouble, Ming doesn’t get injured, and McGrady returns to top form. All that happens, and I still rank them below the Lakers, Jazz, and Hornets believe it or not.
If they develop incredible chemistry, then I rank them in front of Hornets and Jazz and maybe a few lucky games and they beat the Lakers.
I still don’t have them winning it all. All that happening is very unlikely due to the Ming’s injury history, Artest’s chemistry troubles, and McGrady’s steady decline from elite players in the league.