– By Ron Leyba
The buzz of the acquisition of the Superman, Dwight Howard, is now over for the Houston Rockets. Almost a month prior to the season opener, the team will have to look itself in the mirror and see how it can become as dominant as every fan in Houston expects it to be. The road to success and more specifically to the ultimate success of winning the Larry O’Brien trophy this season won’t be laid with roses. In fact there are serious issues the Houston Rockets will have to solve as soon as possible.
The No.1 issue Head Coach Kevin McHale will have to address is the usage of Omer Asik. The 7-footer center was brought last year to Houston to be a starter, after spending two seasons in Chicago as a backup center. Now, not only Asik is too good to be used of the bench, but from as he has also hinted, that role might not suit him well. On the other hand, if the Rockets throw him at the starting grid, at the power forward spot, then they instantly gain size but lose in speed and versatility. For the 27-year old center out of Turkey, it will be an unpleasant change to lose the starting job and the heavy minutes he played last season, because of Howard’s presence. Apart from the drop in his numbers, this will also have an importance to his morale. Kevin McHale should cook a wise master plan in his mind about the use of Omer Asik. Will be used as a backup center? Will he start alongside Dwight Howard?
In fact, the entire starting lineup has still not locked for the Rockets. We certainly know that Howard, James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin will be starting. The fifth member of the group will determine at which position Parsons will be used. We could either see him at the power forward position, if Asik starts off the bench or at the small forward, the position he played up to last season.
One other major concern for Kevin McHale would be the turnovers. The Rockets finished the previous season with 15.8 turnovers per game. Harden and Lin by themselves committed 3.8 and 2.9 per contest. Add up Howard in the mix, who had 4.0 last season and the picture gets complete. The Rockets need to take better care of the ball. Unless they address this aspect of their game, they won’t earn the right to be considered as title contenders.
Defense is another big concern for the team. The Rockets finished 28th in the league last season in point allowed, which is simply unacceptable. Certainly, Howard’s presence will be a big factor this year. The dominant center will help the team barricade its paint. However, defense is a team effort and that’s why each member of the team that steps on the court has to do better on the defensive end.
The Rockets fans should be excited about how their team currently looks. They do have the potential to make it to the top. However, their optimism should be measured as lots of hard work is still ahead.