07 July 2013

With Dwight Howard in town, how good are the Rockets?

My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Dwight Howard has decided to sign a four year, $88 million deal to join James Harden and the Rockets. Howard was the biggest prize of the free agent pool after Chris Paul re-signed with the Clippers as the Lakers, Rockets, Mavericks, Hawks and Warriors were all on the hunt for his services. Howard may have spurned on the more money and the bigger market the Lakers were able to give him in order to better chase a title with Houston. But are they a title club right now?

Any time you can put a couple of elite talents like Howard and Harden, particularly two that have yet to hit their primes, the discussions are going to begin and end with titles. And while the Rockets are certainly going to be serious contenders in the West for the first time since the glory days of the Jeff Van Gundy tenure, let's not just label as favorites in the conference just yet.

After all, the West is still the deeper conference in the NBA with a number of clubs in the mix. That includes the Spurs, who pushed the Heat to the limit in the NBA Finals, the Thunder, who may have returned to the Finals had Russell Westbrook not gotten injured, the Clippers, who add a legitimate coach for the first time in ages in Doc Rivers and bring back the aforementioned Paul alongside Blake Griffin, and even the Warriors, who made a bold signing of Andre Igoudala to team up with a excellent backcourt. It certainly won't be easy to come out of that conference.

It is also made tougher by the fact that even as both Howard and Haden are excellent players, neither has shown the ability to lead a club to the title. That questions are especially true for Howard, who has been rightfully dogged by questions that he is a guy that does not know what he wants and has been a relative disappointment since he led the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals. And people are not going to forget the fiasco that was his departure from Orlando just one year ago, and then how disappointing the Lakers tenure was this year.

But now Howard has a fresh start with a club built to win now and one that wanted to build around Howard. And if the club can acquire another key piece, they are dangling center Omer Asik and potentially point guard Jeremy Lin, it would make things even better. But that means there is plenty of pressure, and Howard has not been known to react to that very well. Therefore, this season will certainly be one to watch.

2 comments:

  1. Rockets lost in the first round of the playoffs twice under Van Gundy, don't know if I would describe that as the "glory days" of the franchise.

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    1. Never said it was, however it was the last time the team was consistently good. That was what I was going for.

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