Tue, Oct 27 @ Portland 10:00 PM
Wed, Oct 28 @ Golden State 10:30 PM
Sat, Oct 31 Portland 8:30 PM
Don't get caught up in the buzz surrounding the Portland games. This isn't a re-match of last year's playoff matchup, because the Blazers have gotten better, and the Rockets have been gutted. Houston, while looking to win, is going to be experimenting.
Though there is always a smudge of experimentation in Rick Adelman's offensive schemes, the first twenty games of this season should serve as a search for the "it" guy. And once the "it" guy is found, whether "it" be Aaron Brooks, Trevor Ariza, or Luis Scola, the remaining puzzle pieces will be placed on the board, shifted quite a few times, and eventually fit together to form individual roles.
We know specifics about each player coming into the season. For example, we know that Aaron Brooks can get into the paint on the drive. We know Luis Scola has some nice posts moves. We know Shane Battier and Trevor Ariza can catch and shoot effectively from deep.
What we don't know, and what we will find out through the first quarter of the year and possibly longer, is how these skills will translate to a specific role in an offense. Brooks, Scola, Ariza, and Battier will be asked to do different things this year. Can Aaron get into the paint, but look to pass rather than to score? Can Scola use those post moves when they fall under a defense's microscope? Can Ariza and Battier create their own shots? We don't know yet, because these players have not been asked to do this before.
Until each player shows Adelman and Co. what he can do when placed in "X" situation, there will be no expectations, and there will be no set rotation. Adelman should have no problem working different players into different spots, but will the Rockets themselves be able cope with variability?
Thus, October (and likely November as well) will be up in the air, which doesn't sound comforting. All signs point to a sub .500 record come December. However, those signs fail to address the competitiveness of this group. The Rockets should will themselves to a few extra wins, even amid the confusion of a makeshift roster.