July 18, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lamb (1) handles the ball during the first half of the game against the Chicago Bulls at Cox Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
The Rockets find themselves with a host of characters that seem only to fit together in the sense that they wear the same jersey. With four drafted rookies joining the team as well as a number of other young players looking for their first chance at significant minutes, there are a number of candidates that seem set to breakout.
Today, we'll run down the three most likely players to break out in 2012-13.
Perhaps the most predictable inclusion on this list, Asik came to Houston on a three year pact that Chicago declined to match. In limited minutes over the past two seasons, Asik flashed tremendous rebounding skills along with a defensive mentality that NBA GM's thirst over. One look at this play should tell you about Asik's defensive skills.
At this point in his career, Asik has already shown to be a disciplined help defender with a solid base in the post. If he can translate these skills to larger minutes, that on itself will have to qualify as a great performance. However, if he can become a pick-and-roll threat with Jeremy Lin, a spot that appears wide open for now, the unexpected offensive production would be a huge boon to the Rockets chances.
The Rockets are hopeful that working under McHale's tutelage could help improve Asik's touch, and I am inclined to agree. Asik has been vicious at the rim over the past two seasons, but looked tentative if you force him even a few feet away from the rim. With his development being one of the Rockets' primary focuses, you have to believe he'll make some serious strides in 2012-13.
Jump for two more breakout performers!
Patterson is what I like to call a "post-hype prospect." After a tremendous rookie season where he seemingly couldn't miss a shot from mid-range, Patterson battled injuries and improved scouting in a lackluster 2011-12 season, losing the shine off his once-promising future.
As many people envision the future, Donatas Motiejunas would be the team's top prospect at power forward, but I'd argue that Patterson has as good a shot as anyone at figuring it out and becoming a legitimate starter at the spot. With his ankle fully healed and a full off-season to work on his strength, we could see a veritable monster come out this year.
Of the four rookies, Lamb is the one I expect the most out of. Terrence Jones and Royce White are more or less blocked for the time being, and Motiejunas will likely be a bit over-matched physically for at least a half-season. Lamb, on the other hand, has a clear path to playing time and looks the part of an NBA shooting guard already.
With the Rockets likely floundering down the stretch having traded Kevin Martin and any other useful veterans (Shaun Livingston and Carlos Delfino perhaps), the team will have a number of games to unleash the young players and allow them a ton of shots. Lamb seems to be the most likely player to thrive in that scenario, with NBA ready scoring skills paired with a long and athletic frame.
Who do you think will breakout? Sound off in the comments!