Since everyone else is writing Debbie Downer posts of doom and gloom this morning, I figured I'd try to bring out some silver lining with the 2010-2011 Houston Rockets. Believe it or not, there is plenty to still be excited about.
First off, a four game losing streak at the start of the season counts the same as a four game losing streak in the middle of the season. Losing streaks are painful, sure. But it isn't the first time that we've endured a losing streak of four or more and still didn't go on to have a great season. Anyone remember a certain Rockets team back in 2008? Starting the year 6-7 didn't stop them from finishing the year with 55 wins. So, yes, this start isn't quite what we envisioned. But to throw in the towel right now would be ludicrous. There is far too much talent on this team for them to fail miserably in this campaign.
So, unlike the rest of Red Nation who is writing the Rockets eulogy this morning, I'm going to take a look at what is going right and has me still believing in this years team as well as the teams future. It all starts after the jump...
Up until last nights game thread, I thought I was the biggest Jordan Hill fan boy out there. Turns out there are quite a few of them here on The Dream Shake. And after days of bellowing for Rick Adelman to give the youngster a shot, Jordal Hill showed all of us why we are so excited about him.
Before entering last night's game, David West of the Hornets was doing his usual lay up drill against the Rockets interior defense. But with Yao's minute restriction and Luis Scola picking up two quick fouls, Coach A looked past Brad Miller and called #27 into the game to play the five. Almost immediately, Houston's interior defense was better and they were actually getting rebounds. Strange how that works when you have a fast, athletic big man, huh? The Golden State game says hi.
Jordan had a heck of a ballgame. To tell you how good and important he was to the team last night, I was actually wanting him in the game in the final minutes over Yao. I know that sounds silly, but Yao wasn't rebounding and wasn't stopping anyone in the paint. Something I know that will improve as the season endures, I'm just saying that last night I wanted Hill in there. Someone else said it in the game thread and I will recapitulate his thoughts that if Jordan Hill develops a consistent mid range jumper, he is going to have a very good NBA career.
It was well known before this season that with this teams depth, there was going to be some problems with the rotation. Especially when you have a coach who is well known for having very tight and small rotations. All we heard the other day was griping that Jordan Hill didn't play. This morning on local radio I'm hearing the same about Brad Miller not playing. It's going to happen some nights where someone gets very few minutes or none at all. At least until Rick figures out this rotation. Sure, it'd be nice to have a 12 man rotation, but it just doesn't happen. It's too hard to have consistency or chemistry developed with a rotation that large. But once Rick gets the rotation down that he likes and plays the best together, things are very likely to improve. The roster depth is still a very good problem to have. Especially when Houston inevitably gets hit with its annual wave of lingering injuries.
We all knew that Yao was going to take some time to become his pre-2009 self again. And it'll happen. He has shown the flashes of it a few times now, he just has to get his NBA legs back again. Right now he still looks sluggish and unsure of himself as well as lacking explosion towards the basket. Time is the only thing that will fix that, but I have no doubts that it will consistently improve moving forward. Yao is too hard of a worker for it not to.
Then you have Kyle Lowry, who was the lynch pin in quite a few Rockets offensive sparks last season. Coming off back spasms and a knee bruise (both that required MRI's), he has looked gun shy thus far. He is shying away from contact and not slashing to the basket. Instead, settling for outside jumpers and three pointers that we all know aren't his forte. This will likely improve as Kyle gets healthy. He is still in preseason mode and will pick it up here in the next few games given that he doesn't injure himself again.
Chase Budinger doesn't seem to be showing any ill effects of the ankle sprain that kept him out for six weeks over the offseason and camp. But his shooting touch seems to still be recovering. I believe he is only 2/13 on three point attempts this year and he is far too good of a shooter for that not to improve. He'll get better.
Everyone likes to bring up the draft considerations that Houston has from the Knicks in potential trades. We still don't know how that is going to play out. The true value of the McGrady trade has yet to be seen. Those picks could be used in acquiring a closer that this team so desperately needs, or they could hang onto them and have some pretty damn good draft picks the next couple of years. Try not to forget about these when determining the full value of the McGrady trade. These will play quite a significant part in Houston's immediate or long-term future.
We all know that this is far too talented of a team for them to completely bomb this season. Forget about the 0-4 start. The 2006-2007 Dallas Mavericks started the season 0-4 and won 67 games. How you start the season doesn't mean squat over the course of 82 games. Sure, you don't want to start this badly, no one does. But the NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint like the NFL season. There is plenty of time to recover. Step away from the panic button.
The Rockets being 0-4 is as unlikely as the Hornets being 4-0. But it is just as unlikely that either trend will continue.
The Rockets will be fine.