Houston Rockets kicked of their 2016-2017 basketball season last night with some new faces and new moves. Gone are Kevin McHale and starting center Dwight Howard after the franchise suffered one of their worst seasons in recent memory.
Last year’s team was a team mired by internal conflicts, uninspiring play, incoherent roster moves and a complete meltdown in the first round of the playoffs. This left a front office with several fires to put out in the off season and challenges that needed to be overcome. Ultimately, did rockets did very little to overcome this challenges.
Let me start off by saying that the rockets hiring Mike D’antoni wasn’t a bad decision, but wasn’t a valuable decision. The rockets have a lot of issues to overcome from last season and the hiring of D’antoni feels like a decision made to quiet critics rather than a decision to increase their chances of winning a championship. D’antoni is an offense first coach that has a well-documented history of clashing with big men. His interview maybe was amazing or maybe the Rockets are trying to win by simply out scoring their opposition. But scorning has never been an issue for the Rockets.The rockets lacked effective defense last year placing 25th in the league and couldn’t compete with a Curry-less Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. And its worth noting that D’antoni’s Career coaching record is 188-254(42%) his last 6 years as a head coach.
Developing career players via the draft has never been a talent of their front office. While they have played well enough to avoid being a lottery team, they have not exactly put much effort into developing their young draft picks. Looking at their roster no one seems to stand out as a reliable talent to provide support for the MVP like play of James Harden.
Veterans like Trevor Ariza, Nene and Corey Brewer will help, but the lack of Dwight Howard and no real perimeter stopper will be noticeable as the Rockets didn’t upgrade at any position but only added unknown/unreliable depth. This is a team that in the western conference not having a strong post presence or offensive 1-2 punch is a disastrous season in the making
Currently the Rockets are 1-1 in the new season but only time will tell if this team is a legitimate Western Conference contender. I see the rockets finishing their 2016-2017 season as they did 2015-2016 as a .500 team. I think the only difference is they will be fun to watch under a steroid super offense led by D’antoni but will quickly wan as the season becomes more competitive and teams focus on defense.