Dwight Howard, Jeremy Lin, and James Harden make the Rockets favorites to win the NBA Title.
Houston Rockets Preview: 2012-13 Review
The Houston Rockets have been hungry for a franchise-defining superstar since the loss of Yao Ming. After many failed attempts, the team finally landed one in SG James Harden. Acquiring James Harden via trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Houston Rockets turned "the Beard" from a complimentary piece into a full-on All-Star. Pairing him with the newly-signed Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets ticket sales and T.V. ratings shot up to heights not seen in years.
The 2012-13 Houston Rockets were also more than marketing hype. Thanks to the leadership of James Harden, and excellent play from the likes of Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik, the Houston Rockets got some key wins against in the elite Southwest Division. Going 45-37, the Houston Rockets secured a spot in the NBA Playoffs, losing a tough series to the Oklahoma City Thunder. It became clear that the Houston Rockets would need another big name to compete in the era of the Miami Heat, and the team would so land the player that they had coveted for five years.
Houston Rockets Preview: Dwight Howard
Like a high school nerd pursuing the prom queen, the Houston Rockets had unsuccessfully courted Dwight Howard for years. This failure was mostly due to the fact that the post-Yao Rockets had nothing to offer the Orlando Magic in exchange. Things would start to change thanks to the ill-conceived trade of Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic to the LA Lakers. Originally seen as a blockbuster move, the 2012-13 LA Lakers imploded due to Dwight Howard's contentious relationship to Kobe Bryant, in addition to the age of the roster. Dwight Howard took the opportunity to explore the free agent market in the 2013 offseason, having a number of suitors.
Thanks to Jeremy Lin and James Harden, along with plenty of younger players, the Houston Rockets instantly popped out as the best landing spot for Dwight Howard. After a few meetings, the NBA's best big man chose the Houston Rockets easily. Fitting well with coach Kevin McHale's system, Dwight Howard has a chance to return to his Superman form after being forced incorrectly into the LA Lakers fast-pace offense. With a great backcourt and an underrated frontcourt to back him up, Dwight Howard will be set for an eighth All-Star appearance.
Houston Rockets Preview: James Harden
No argument can be made that the Houston Rockets fortunes turned around thanks to the effort and ability of James Harden. Formerly the NBA Sixth Man of the Year, James Harden took the role of team leader and superstar to heart, putting up some of the best offensive numbers in Houston Rockets history. Earning a trip to the 2012 NBA All-Star Game, and bringing in tons of new fans, James Harden had just as much an impact off the court as on it. James Harden showed other players that the Houston Rockets were a marque destination, one that could win multiple NBA Championships for years to come.
Houston Rockets Preview: Jeremy Lin
First winning the hearts of basketball fans with his "Linsanity" run as a member of the 2011-12 New York Knicks, Jeremy Lin came to the Houston Rockets as a free agent. One of the better shooting point guards in the NBA, Jeremy Lin excelled at being a distributor of the basketball, clicking instantly with James Harden. Though a liability on defense, Jeremy Lin has become a deadly offensive glass cannon. With Dwight Howard in front of him, Jeremy Lin will have even more opportunities to rack-up stats in 2013, especially in the assists category.
Houston Rockets Preview: Chandler Parsons
A favorite of female Houston Rockets ticketholders, Chandler Parsons has the game to go along with his looks and charisma. One of the breakout stars of the 2012-13 NBA season, Chandler Parsons was the Houston Rockets second-leading scorer, and showed an impressive defensive game. Able to play small or power forward, Chandler Parsons will become a nightmare matchup for opposing teams. Chandler Parsons will only get better due to his age, and with a great supporting cast, could easily be an All-Star in 2013.
Houston Rockets Preview: Other Pieces
The Houston Rockets were a playoff team before getting Dwight Howard, and much of that was thanks to their depth. Howard's arrival may shuffle the deck a bit, but that roster is largely intact. C Omer Asik was a borderline All-Star in 2013, and will see plenty of minutes as the starting power forward and as the backup center. PG Patrick Beverly is another versatile player than can play multiple spots, and his defensive ability makes him a good change-of-pace for Jeremy Lin or James Harden. F Terrance Jones has been tabbed as a future starter and will get plenty of sixth-man action.
Houston Rockets Preview: Roster Chemistry
With two superstars, two rising players, and perhaps the deepest bench in the NBA, fans with Houston Rockets tickets can expect one of the best teams in basketball. Head coach Kevin McHale is a specialist when it comes to big men, and with Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik, and Dwight Howard to play with, he will be able to outmuscle every team in the NBA, even the Miami Heat. The NBA has been called a shooter's league over the past few seasons, and the Houston Rockets have the backcourt firepower to match anyone. The complete roster will allow the Houston Rockets to outshoot, out rebound, and overpower their opponents. They can also win through attrition thanks to a bench of unselfish players.
Houston Rockets Preview: 2013 Outlook
With so many stars in their prime or set to peak, the Houston Rockets are in a great place, especially in the Southwest Division. The San Antonio Spurs are getting old, the Memphis Grizzlies are young and raw, and the New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks are rebuilding. The door is wide-open for the Houston Rockets to step through, and they have all the tools to reach the NBA Championship. The Houston Rockets stars may win the regular season, but their depth and unselfish play will be the key if they want to realize their destiny in the 2014 NBA playoffs. On paper anyways, it looks like no team will be able to stop the Houston Rockets in 2013, 2014, or beyond.
Houston Rockets: 2013 Starting Roster
Center: Dwight Howard
Power Forward: Omer Asik
Small Forward: Chandler Parsons
Shooting Guard: James Harden
Point Guard: Jeremy Lin
Notable Bench Players:
C Marcus Camby
G Patrick Beverly
F: Terrance Jones
F: Dontas Montiejunas