Among all the FA talk, it seemed as if the Rockets were constantly left out as being in the mix for big name guys, especially Bosh, and it always seems to be that the Rockets are an afterthought in the crowded Western Conference. We don't have a flashy star, no attention-getting coach, and we aren't in one of the top couple sports markets that gain attention no matter how bad their teams suck. BUT, I just ran accross this on ESPN...
3. Rank the NBA's top five teams going into the 2010-11 season.
Abbott: 1. Lakers; 2. Magic; 3. Heat; 4. Spurs; 5. Celtics
Adande: 1. Lakers; 2. Celtics; 3. Magic; 4. Heat; 5. Thunder
Arnovitz: 1. Heat; 2. Lakers; 3. Magic; 4. Celtics; 5. Rockets
Ford: 1. Lakers; 2. Heat; 3. Magic; 4. Mavericks; 5. Celtics
Hollinger: 1. Lakers; 2. Magic; 3. Heat; 4. Thunder; 5. Celtics
Sheridan: 1. Lakers; 2. Heat; 3. Celtics; 4. Thunder; 5. Rockets
Stein: 1. Lakers; 2. Heat; 3. Celtics; 4. Magic; 5. Thunder/Bulls
Two analysts, Arnovitz & Sheridan, think the Rockets will be the 5th best team in the league, not just the West, the NBA. With all the excitement and disappointment around the Rockets aquiring someone in FA, I haven't seen too much on how the Rockets will fare this upcoming season. I'm personally extremely excited to see what the Rockets will do this year. This is one of the deepest and most talented teams the Rockets have had in years, however, and unfortunately, the main question surrounding this team will concern the health of the players. Yao's past is well known and when Lowry and Battier went down last year the Rockets struggled down the stretch. BUT..
If this team can somehow manage to stay healthy, (and Morey remains confident Yao will come back stronger than ever when comparing his surgery to big Z in Cleveland) this current roster has the pieces in place to do some damage in the West. Yao will improve this defense greatly that already includes Ariza and Battier coming off the bench, most likely. Along with Scola, Hill, Hayes, Patterson and Andersen, the front line has the skills to match up with the Lakers and other teams in the West. Granted, the Lakers may and probably still have an advantage, but much less of one than last year. The Rockets size also increases because of the departures of Boozer and Amare to the East.
The backcourt also could be better this year than what we saw last year. Martin will have an offseason and full season to work with the Rockets players and coaches and Buddinger could be an even better player than he was last year. Paired with probably the best pointguard tandem in the NBA, the Rockets should continually be in the bonus next season and should live at the FT line. Yao, Lowry and Martin always look for contact as we all know and Yao will definitely benefit from being in the bonus more often.
I think the current state of the West will also help the Rockets this season. The off-season isn't finished, but with the departures of Amare and Boozer, and the fact that there is a significant drop off after the Lakers, a top spot in the West is certainly possible.
If the Rockets go into the season with the roster that's currently in place and the assets currently available, how do you think we will fare? What's our position in the Division? Conference? And League?
Here's the link for anyone that wants to see: