6) Houston Rockets 45-37 in the 2012-2013 season. 8th in the West. 3rd in the Southwest.
Saving all those extra assets ended up paying off big time for the Houston Rockets. They were able to pull off a trade for James Harden last year, and now have acquired Dwight Howard to pair up with Harden. This team went from barely being in the playoffs to now one of the biggest threats out West. With all the younger players looking to prove themselves alongside the stars, this team is dangerous. Howard will look to revamp his career on a new team, while Harden will look to prove to those who didn't think he could be the "star" of his own team that they were wrong all along. This team has a lot to live up to, and a lot to prove. Should be an exciting year in Houston.
Acquired: Dwight Howard, Ronnie Brewer, Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi, Reggie Williams
Drafted: Isaiah Canaan (#34)
Lost: Carlos Delfino, Thomas Robinson, Royce White
Starters: Jeremy Lin (PG), James Harden (SG), Chandler Parson (SF), Terrence Jones (PF), Dwight Howard (C)
Bench: Patrick Beverly (PG), Ronnie Brewer (SG), Francisco Garcia (SF), Omar Asik (C), Donatas Motiejunas (PF)
Up: Dwight Howard - Getting out of Los Angeles alone has to be a winning situation for Howard. It was clear him and Kobe did not mix well together, and now the situation in Houston seems to be a good fit for him to get back on his feet. From not getting along with Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni to the constant injury woes he had, this is another chance for Dwight to rewrite the image of his game. We'll see if he can make a statement this year.
Down: Jeremy Lin - Linsanity slowly died off after Lin left the Knicks. There were a few games where we saw it spark up, yet for most of the year Lin was just an average Point Guard option in the league. While his productivity was decent, he became an afterthought to the team due to his injury situation and how well Patrick Beverley started to heat up during the playoffs. Houston is hoping Linsanity can make a big return with Dwight and Harden this year to help Houston out in a long playoff run.
X-Factor: James Harden - It was really fun last year to watch James Harden really turn into a "star" for Houston. People questioned if he could really be the #1 option on a team, yet he flourished in the role. Houston snuck into the playoffs and gave Oklahoma City a decent run. Now with a new year and a new cast of characters around him, Harden will have to repeat what he was able to accomplish last year. This is where he can go from "star" to "superstar" player.
Question to Ponder...Who is the starting PG and PF for the long haul?
This team has three positions pretty much wrapped up for this year. The Shooting Guard and Center roles are filled by top notch players, and the Small Forward spot seems to be locked up by up-and-coming youngster Chandler Parsons. Yet the Point Guard and Power Forward spots are much trickier to get a grip on. Jeremy Lin fills the Point Guard slot, but both Patrick Beverly and rookie Isaiah Canaan could have solid years and take the role from him if he doesn't live up to the hype. Then there's the weakness at PF. This team could play Omer Asik at the Power Forward, yet the idea of him and Dwight on the floor at the same time isn't the most appealing. Terrence Jones has the lead at the moment, but isn't exactly running away with the job. The Rockets could try other players such as Donatas Motiejunas at the Power Forward, though hopefully they'll have those positions filled before the playoffs begin.
Bold Prediction for the Houston Rockets: Patrick Beverly will have more starts at PG than Jeremy Lin and will be the starting PG during the playoffs.
This isn't so much about Jeremy Lin as it is the expectations for this team. They got Dwight and Harden. This is a team that is striving for nothing less of a title this year. Jeremy Lin is a solid option for a Point Guard on a team that's desperate, but Patrick Beverly can play. He was a solid player for the Rockets in the playoffs last year, and fits the team more if they want to run a fast-break offense off the defensive rebounds. While Lin might be the starter earlier on in the year, eventually the team will look at Beverly for the potential he can bring and start him over Lin. I'm also not saying Lin can't be a very solid player off the bench. I just have a belief when this team looks at Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverly, they'll eventually decide that Beverly is the better option starting for the Rockets this year.
Projected Record: 56-26 3rd in the West, 2nd in the Southwest.