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November 4, 2006

The 2006-07 Houston Rockets

rockets.jpgAfter a rather uninspiring effort against Utah on the road to start the season, the Houston Rockets open their 2006-07 home schedule tonight at Toyota Center against the Dallas Mavericks.

As noted here and here, the Rockets have performed poorly for the better part of a decade now and have been far surpassed during that time by Texas' two other NBA teams, the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks. After waiting too long to do so, Rockets' owner Les Alexander finally hired some new blood earlier this year for the Rockets' front office in the person of Daryl Morey, who is effectively taking over this year for longtime Rockets GM, Carroll Dawson. As this Wall Street Journal ($) profile explains, Morey represents a new wave of NBA executives who base their player evaluations primarily on statistical analysis of a player's contributions to his team's performance.

The early indications of Morey's effect on the Rockets are positive. The roster has been re-tooled since last season's disappointing 34-48 record, and such NBA experts as the Wages of Wins bloggers believe that the Rockets are primed for a good season, albeit still below the Spurs and the Mavs. Given the Rockets' decade of deterioration, I remain skeptical that the team will be much better than a .500 club this season -- the team still has glaring holes at power forward and point guard, which will result in rebounding and turnover problems. However, there is no doubt that Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Bonzi Wells and Shane Battier are a solid core of key players that is capable of turning the Rockets into a playoff-caliber team once the latter two players are integrated into the team's style of play. I will take the under on the current over/under of 46 wins, but it will not be shocking if this Rockets team surpasses 50 wins if Yao and McGrady are reasonably healthy and can play for 70 games or so.

Just don't expect the Rockets to have a better record than either the Spurs or the Mavs.

Posted by Tom at November 4, 2006 4:38 AM |

Comments

However, there is no doubt that Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Bonzi Wells and Shane Battier are a solid core of key players that is capable of turning the Rockets into a playoff-caliber team once the latter two players are integrated into the team's style of play.

I agree with much of what you've written about the Rockets, but we shouldn't lose track of the fact that the Rockets WERE a playoff team when Yao and T-Mac were healthy two seasons ago, and they were not a playoff team when those two were not healthy last year.

The role players are definitely better this year -- especially the addition of Battier -- but if those two are out again for extended periods, this will not be a good team.

Posted by: Kevin Whited Author Profile Page at November 4, 2006 4:36 PM

Kevin, I think that's right, but most NBA teams would struggle with their two primary players sidelined. The difference between the Rockets of last season and this season is that this season's squad has much better depth. Wells, in particular, has the ability to pick up the slack when McGrady's back acts up. No one on the past two season's Rockets teams had that ability.

Posted by: Tom K. Author Profile Page at November 4, 2006 7:55 PM

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