The Houston Rockets made a ton of moves in the offseason. The one that best exemplifies this squad, though, was……..
Ha! The 80s. Anyways, the Rockets did re-sign a Bobby Brown to a $1.5 million contract. This Brown is a 33 year old point guard that played his college ball at Cal State Fullerton and actually played in 25 games last season. Now, he will make no impact from a basketball perspective. Maybe he’s a good dancer and can provide energy on the bench perhaps? Maybe he performs on the court during timeouts and halftime? It would be an efficient use of resources. Honestly, the only reason I mention Bobby at all is because I chuckled when I saw his name on the depth chart and immediately thought of the song above. It’s an apt song, if you don’t take the lyrics literally. EVERY. LITTLE. STEP. I grew up playing Kung Fu on the NES. Basically, you start on a floor, kick and punch a bunch of things, then climb a set of stairs….rinse and repeat until you get to the top. That’s how I view this Rockets team. They’ve made improvements and EVERY. LITTLE. STEP. will be spent towards one goal. How quickly they can figure out things and traverse the landscape will determine how high they can go.
2016 record: 55-27
- Chris Paul via trade
- P. J. Tucker via free agency
- Zhou Qi via free agency
- Tarik Black via free agency
- Luc Mbah a Moute via free agency
- Patrick Beverley via trade
- Sam Dekker via trade
- Montrezl Harrell via trade
- Lou Williams via trade
- Ryan Kelley via free agency
- Shawn Long via free agency
This team is going to be really, really good. They played at the third-fastest pace and were second in offensive rating. It will be the second season for most of the players in the Mike D’Antoni system so there should increased familiarity. Now, they add CP3 to the mix, who basically shores up the weakness that the Spurs exposed in last year’s playoffs; stay with the three-point shooters and make the Rockets shoot from the mid-range. CP3 just happens to be one the league’s best mid-range scorers. In addition, D’Antoni coached some guy named Steve Nash, so he knows how to accentuate the skills of crafty point guards. Two sneaky acquisitions were P. J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute, both of whom play good defense on the wing and should help improve the 18th-ranked defensive rating. A contender, for sure. How high they go depends on what they learn EVERY. LITTLE. STEP. of the way.
PG – CP3 is the leader of this team. James Harden is still the face of the franchise, but CP3 is the alpha. That’s his personality and he has seniority over Harden, as they’ve had experience on Olympic teams in the past. When both Paul and Harden are on the floor, the offense is going to flow through Paul with Harden spotting up. With the increase in pace and offensive system that is in place, it really wouldn’t surprise to see a MVP-caliber season from Paul. He shot 41% from three-land last season, will grab around five boards, should dish out over 10 assists and game, and pilfer around two a game. I’m very excited to see him operate in this system with all the offensive talent surrounding him. Bobby Brown and Isaiah Taylor are the backups. Both are irrelevant, as the Rockets will just stagger minutes and use Harden at the point and Eric Gordon at the 2 when Paul needs a breather.
SG – James Harden is still going to have plenty of run during games when he’s the guy on offense. It’s really the ideal scenario for him. He’s going to get a ton of open looks when CP3 is on the court and will have some of the pressure and burden taken off him. When he’s the guy, he should be a little more fresh and defenses will not have seen his moves with as much regularity. I think his usage rate comes down a bit as well as the assists. With that said, the shooting percentage could get better and the turnovers could decrease. He’s going to be fine. Eric Gordon will get plenty of minutes backing up Harden. Did you see the depth chart behind CP3? Gordon has one job and one job only: score. He shoots 37% from three-land but won’t contribute much, if any, in the ancillary categories.
SF – Trevor Ariza will start at small forward. Ariza is the poor man’s version of Otto Porter and Robert Covington. He will contribute across the board, except in blocks. His shooting percentages aren’t as good, though. With that said, he plays a ton of minutes in a high-paced environment. P. J. Tucker will back up Ariza. A really good signing for the Rockets, as he shot 40% from three-land last season, will contribute on the boards, pilfer over one a game, and play solid, tough defense on the wing. An interesting nugget is that he’s been playing multiple positions, with some time at center in small-ball lineups. How many minutes he gets is the question.
PF – Ryan Anderson is still the starter, but the Rockets have been trying to unload him for a while now. He’s a pure stretch 4, as he shot 40% from three-land last season and did little else. Interestingly, he was a much better shooter on the road than at home. Shout out to all you DFSers. He should get plenty of open looks with CP3 in town. Luc Mbah a Moute was another great signing for the Rockets. He may not get a ton of minutes and probably won’t be fantasy relevant, but he shot 39% from three-land last season and plays very good defense.
C – Clint Capela is the starter and should feast with CP3. He’s only 22 years old, so he can still improve. I noticed plays in the preseason where he would catch the ball at the high post, pivot, then drive past his defender and finish with the left hand. Just saying. Anyways, the field goal percentage is going to be super-high with a ton of boards and blocks. As with most centers, the free throw percentage is putrid. Nene Hilario will be the backup. He won’t get many minutes, so not fantasy viable. Tarik Black is the backup center/forward. He probably won’t get many minutes, but he has potential. He’s very athletic and plays hard. This system could be the perfect environment for him. Per 36 last season with the Lakers, 12.6 points, 11.3 boards, 1 steal, and 1.5 blocks.