Rocket Fuel is back after an extended summer vacation — not a whole lot to read anyway, plus you should be at the beach reading a book — prompted by a turn in the tides. Out is washing the negative media stench of 2015-2016.
Coming in with the waves is the redemption story of the fall. The Rockets have a new coach, new focus, new contract for their star — who seems to have exorcised his summer demons, with an assist from Kevin Durant — and, a new narrative.
NBA.com | D’Antoni hopes formula is enough to bring him a title
Great, long piece by Ian Thomsen on how Golden State’s title gave Mike D’Antoni the confidence to jump both feet into his system. The triangle of him, Jeff Bzdelik and James Harden will be crucial this year.
Hardwood Paroxysm | Why do we hate James Harden so much?
This piece from Ti Windish doesn’t actually answer the question it proposes (Tip for amateur writers/editors: avoid question headlines. They are not good). But, it is a case for folks to give Harden his just due, and this is its penultimate sentence: “One day, after his jersey is hung up for good, the NBA community is going to realize that Harden was completely under-appreciated in 2016.” Amen.
Important note Rahat makes on Yao’s career: he dominated Dwight Howard.
NBA.com | 30 teams in 30 days: Rockets make contending top focus
Shaun Powell, as part of his 30-day, team-by-team preview, gives a capsule of what to expect from the Rockets this year.
RealGM | Decreasing James Harden’s isolations, increasing his assists
The blueprint for how James Harden will get to Mike D’Antoni’s vision of double-digit assists per game. Good breakdown.
CBS Local | Rockets reportedly to retire Yao’s number this year
This is news sourced from a few Chinese outlets. I haven’t seen anything that’s confirmed this from a source stateside, so I’ll wait before pronouncing it a definite thing that is happening. But it’s an inevitability, at this point, and it would make sense to do it this year. But, considering he just turned 36, no one’s in a hurry.
The Dream Shake | Rockets littered throughout SI’s Top 100
Clint Capela in the top 80 of Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney’s annual NBA rankings was a pleasant surprise to discover yesterday. It seems he might emerge from sleeper status to young stud if everything pans out as we expect. The need to promulgate the Swiss Roll nickname grows by the day.
Frankly, all this good mojo is making me a little anxious. It’s refreshing considering how grating last year was as both a Rockets fan and an avid consumer of basketball media. But last year, the Rockets had a lot of good PR in September, too, and it certainly helped create the sour situation that emerged. At least the expectations are far, far lower this year.
Spyro should be back giving you the optimist’s take on daily Rockets news later this week. It’s beginning to smell a lot like basketball.