For Rockets, Dalembert Element Raises Exciting Questions

Two games into the Houston Rockets' shortened season, and I'm already reaching for my "Fan Whose Opinion Fluctuates Daily" mask. I know, it's one game, and the Rockets lost three nights earlier, but come on. Twenty-point wins over much better in-state rivals merit some leeway on the sanity scale.

I'm not sure what to expect from a team when its most exciting new development is Samuel Dalembert. Most of Dally's career has been filled with high expectations and subsequent disappointment. The Philadelphia 76ers weren't sure what they got when they drafted Sam, but after a few promising seasons, they saw a flicker of hope for the future. Perhaps they'd snagged the next great center.

Fortunately for Houston, Dalembert never took the next step. He's good, yes, but he also has plenty of flaws. He's a little too prone to shoot the ball sometimes, and on occasion he'll be over-aggressive on defense and blow an assignment, and on top of that he doesn't have any real post moves... but who cares? That's why the Rockets landed Dalembert for the world's greatest price and contract length.

He's a perfect fit for the Rockets, because above all else, he really wants to be here. He could have taken a slight pay cut to go play for a championship in Miami. He could have taken more money to return to a young, exciting Sacramento Kings team. Instead, he opted for the surprise. Houston? What's Houston got to offer? The middle-of-the-pack, starless Rockets? Sign me up!

With Dalembert in tow -- and with a rushed season that already has older teams like Dallas and Boston on the ropes -- how far can the Rockets go? This team has proven it can score. Losing Chuck Hayes may slightly alter the flow and rhythm of last year's offense, but there's too much firepower for that hangover to last long. The bench is deep, the Terrence Williams looks smarter and there's an added energy boost with Kevin McHale onboard.

I'm not here to tell you that Samuel Dalembert is anything more than what you can see with your own eyes. He's an average, worn puzzle piece, but perhaps after a long-tenured career he has finally found the right puzzle. We told ourselves last season: All this team is missing, minus a star, is a legitimate center. The Rockets got one of those. If they can keep the offense alive and improve defensively around Dalembert, you tell me: What's the limit?

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