|2011-12 Team Rating|
|9th Overall||15th Overall|
Stats through Feb. 16
Starting forwards Luis Scola and Chandler Parsons give the Rockets a nice mix of veteran wiles and rookie enthusiasm around the basket. Center Samuel Dalembert has been a nice pickup with his play in the paint at both ends.
You could have made the argument -- and the Rockets did -- that Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin both merited All-Star recognition. The bulldog Lowry has quietly become a top-flight point guard and a leader you'd follow into battle.
The biggest difference from last year was supposed to be getting big man Dalembert in the middle to replace 6-foot-6 Chuck Hayes. But the Rockets have also had success trapping and forcing turnovers with their small lineup.
From Patrick Patterson to Chase Budinger to Courtney Lee to Goran Dragic, the Rockets' bench is solid, together and of late has been a key to their run up through the West standings. Athleticism and enthusiasm abound.
In his first year on the job in Houston, Kevin McHale has wasted no time putting his stamp on the Rockets. He demands effort and is willing to sit anyone at anytime who doesn't deliver it.
The Rockets have seemingly been a team in transition for several years. Ever since Tracy McGrady checked out and Yao Ming was lost again to injury and retirement, they've been seeking an identity.
On the sidelines that identity has come from the Hall of Famer McHale, who knows what it takes to win and cuts no corners or makes no excuses in that pursuit. The on-court identity has come from Lowry, who has embraced his role as starter and team leader in a bear hug and is now squeezing every ounce of production out of his teammates.
After failing in their attempt to remake the team around Pau Gasol, the Rockets have succeeded with a combination of Dalembert and Jordan Hill in the middle. While neither is complete, together they defend the paint and can score around the basket.
The second-year forward Patterson has come back from ankle surgery to show that he can become everything the Rockets hoped when they drafted him and another key to the future.
The Rockets are still not ready to enter the conversation with the real championship contenders. That's going to take a move or two by G.M. Daryl Morey. But in the meantime, this can be a competitive, athletic, entertaining bunch to watch and potentially dangerous first-round playoff opponent.
-- Fran Blinebury
Explanation of Marking System
|Golden State Warriors||C-|
|Los Angeles Clippers||B|
|Los Angeles Lakers||B-|
|New Jersey Nets||D|
|New Orleans Hornets||F|
|New York Knicks||C+|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||A|
|Portland Trail Blazers||B-|
|San Antonio Spurs||A|