NBA Season Wrap Up: Houston Rockets

5/9/13 in NBA   |   droth   |   127 respect

Now that the first round is in in the rear view mirror, we are examining each of the the playoff teams that have been eliminated.  We just reviewed the Lakers 2012-13 season and now we are rounding out the Western Conference's first round casualties with our look at the Houston Rockets.

Houston Rockets:

Apr 27, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) and center Omer Asik (3) react to a call during the first quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder during game three in the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsThe Rockets had one of the more interesting seasons of any team in the league.  GM Daryl Morey put himself into contention for executive of the year with one move when they traded for James Harden just before the season started.  They went from a projected lottery team that couldn't get a superstar to a surprise playoff team with a 45-37 record.

Houston was also one of the league's most exciting teams to watch and Harden was at the center of it all.  He scored 25.9 points, dished out 5.8 assists and collected 4.9 rebounds per game.  The Rockets were the second highest scoring team in the league and the former third overall pick proved that he could be "the guy" for a playoff team.  But in a loaded Western Conference, they're going to need more to make a deep run.

Morey has been vocal about his strategy and vision as an executive.  He recognizes the need for franchise changing players, explaining that this urgency led him to make the Harden trade.  So in terms of offseason moves, I doubt he will look for marginal upgrades.  He is going to try to land a player that raises them to contender status or he will wait.  He is patient and calculating and he knows what he wants.

The 2012-13 Rockets played to their strengths.  They pushed the ball, got to the foul line and jacked up threes, winning a lot of shootouts.  Their fast pace resulted in a lot of points but they also led the league in turnovers.  If the Rockets want to be a more balanced team they will need to protect the rim and figure out a way to score consistently if and when the games slow down.

Samuel Dalembert would provide some shot blocking for a team that finished 24th in blocked shots last season, but doesn't do much in the half court offense department.  Then there are players like David West and Paul Millsap that would instantly improve their half court offense if Houston wants to try to balance out their offensive strategy.  

The Rockets have a solid roster already with lots of young, cheap talent.  All of Morey's planning has prepared the Rockets to be ready when a superstar becomes available; they have cap space for a max contract if they make a small move or two and plenty of good trade assets.  Maybe it's a sign and trade of Asik for Dwight Howard or shipping off one of their assets to make room for West or Millsap, but they certainly have the flexibility to do it.

Francisco Garcia, an unrestricted free agent, is the only Rockets player on the market this summer.
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