This season was not pretty for a Rockets fan for several reasons. But ever the optimist, I'm looking at the problems that sprung up and will suggest how this year could be different.
Check out my thoughts after the jump.
This season's problems:
Luis Scola: Scola saw a dip in production last year including weak defense and some painful fourth quarters.
Solution: Scola's dip can be attributed to last year's awful schedule which was not kind to vets and even more so to the fact that Mchale had him at centre... a lot! He'll be more in his regular position full time this season as Mchale will have better options at Centre. It's tempting to ship him but he's provided leadership to the squad and neither PPat or DMo are ready start at PF.
No Solid Centre: After Yao, this has been the Rockets' mainstay issue. Dalembert started the season well but was never consistent and Camby is just too old to totally depend on for a full season.
Solution: This season, with two first round draft picks and several trade pieces Morey should be able to find a better solution to that problem than Dalembert and Camby. It may not be a Dwight Howard solution, but it could be a Kaman/Lopez level acquisition that does it..
Patrick Patterson: After showing a lot of promise at the end of his rookie year, Patrick Patterson struggled a lot last year.
Solution: Last year Patterson came into the season after a surgery he never fully recovered from, into a brutal schedule without a proper training camp. None of those issues exist this year. He may never live up to the hopes we have for him, but he should be better this year and provide solid backup at the 4.
Defense: As we've known them to, the Rockets sucked at defense.
Solution: This is extremely hopeful but Mchale will put his money where his mouth is and deliver on his 'defense first' promise. He will have a full training camp and a greater chance to enforce his philosophy on the team (which I hope to God extends beyond “PLAYING HARD EVERY NIGHT”.) Kevin Martin, our biggest defensive liability will most likely not return and will be replaced with the two-way playing Courtney Lee.
Solution: Except for Morris, the rest have all been shipped out. Morris remains, but there is every reason to believe he will live up to his D-league showing and at the same time, with a proper training camp, he'll understand what Mchale wants from him and deliver behind Parsons.
Thin Backcourt: When Lowry and Martin were injured, and both out backups became the starters, the Rockets struggled to find decent backups.
Solution: With Dragic and Lee expected to start, that void needs to be filled. Fortunately we have draft picks with decent guard options. Also we should have the cap space and trade pieces to get a decent young backup guard.
NO STAR: More like an eternal problem.
SOLUTION: Unless we witness a Morey miracle, none really. I do have hopes of a breakout season for Dragic, but whether it's going to be an all star performance is yet to be seen. Also, given the solid trade pieces and cap space we have, we should definitely be able to upgrade at a couple of positions. All indications point to a better roster, if not a tremendous one.
TOO MANY POWER FORWARDS: D Mo comes into a Rockets squad with both Scola and Patterson and it remains to be seen if he should be ahead of them in the rotation. Obviously it would be great for Donatas to fill that backup Centre spot with his height but he doesn't look likehe'd be able to handle that position at the NBA level.
SOLUTION: The possibility of either Scola or Patterson being traded is likely. The Rockets could also amnesty Scola if I'm not mistaken. But the miracle scenario is that Mchale makes a Centre out of Motie.
Well, that's it. These are the reasons why I think next season looks better. Of course, none of this means we'll be title contenders. But maybe we can be in the middle of the playoff pack next season instead of scrounging for the 8th spot again.