Last season, the Rockets fought through injuries to Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, and Courtney Lee throughout the season yet still managed to exceed expectations with an above .500 record and a serious challenge for the playoffs. Now, after Daryl Morey has stripped the roster of its extraneous parts, could the Rockets be one injury away from torpedoing their entire season?
When you think of indispensable players, two current Rockets come to mind: Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. After the jump, we'll look at the impact that losing either player would have on the Rockets season.
If Lin were to go down again (we'll say with a serious knee injury), this team would not be bad. They'd be horrific. Beyond unwatchable.
Outside of Lin, there is not a single player on the roster who can consistently create for both himself and others. Royce White is a shiny new toy, but he's not NBA ready. Kevin Martin can score but his modus operandi is create for himself or quickly pass it to the next guy. Scott Machado? It's unclear what he can do against defenses outside the MAAC. Manny Machado? Excellent third base prospect but unlikely to contribute to the Rockets.
If you thought the Rockets had problems with stagnating offenses the last three seasons, the performance the Rockets would put on without Lin would cause you to throw your remote through your tv screen. Kevin McHale would be too busy drinking his sorrows away to draw up any plays and the team would fall flat on its face.
In short, stay healthy Jeremy. Let's hope you can be poor, hungry, and driven to get in great shape so you won't miss any time.
Unlike the case of Jeremy Lin, if Omer Asik falters the Rockets have the talented Donatas Motiejunas to replace him, right? One look at what the Rockets need out of their center would tell you exactly how bad that situation would be.
Right now, the Rockets projected starting back court is Jeremy Lin and Kevin Martin. If you haven't picked up on this yet, there are going to be a lot of guards in the paint and having a legitimate defensive center waiting for them is going to be tremendously important.
The Rockets defense is not going to be good next year, but without Asik, the defense would challenge for the worst in the league. Opposing guards would be shepherded into the paint by Jeremy Lin and Kevin Martin before being offered some tea and biscuits from the big man waiting for him and finally, the guard would lay the ball into the basket unmolested by the Rockets.
There is no way that Greg Smith would be the answer defensively, and Motiejunas would be just as much of a disaster. Everyone that was so quick to usher Samuel Dalembert out the door would be begging for him to come racing back.
It's amazing how just months after the Rockets barely landed this duo in free agency, the two of them are already indispensable. If either goes down, this team could be headed for a very high lottery pick. At next year's draft we might be excited about that pick, but I know that I wouldn't want to be around to watch how they get there.
Editor's Note: I'm going to be away from civilization for the next week, so you won't see my daily posts going up in the mornings. I'm sure the world will still go around, though.