BR: Why Houston Rockets Won’t Exceed Expectations in 2013-14

The Houston Rockets’ vaunted trio will need at least a year of playing together before the team can reach the expectations many are hoping for. Dwight Howard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons are a solid core to build around, but championships aren’t won simply by big names on paper.

Last year’s Los Angeles Lakers, whom Howard was a member of, were a prime example of what happens when teams get ahead of themselves after comprising an All-Star roster. With one of the most impressive starting rotations ever assembled, the Lakers were expected to be instant title contenders.

In reality, the Lake Show struggled to find an identity and stumbled to a 45-37 record. They were eventually nabbed the seventh seed and were swept in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs.

This year’s Rockets team will be much improved from last year’s bunch (which also went 45-37 and lost in the first round, although in more dramatic fashion). The addition of Howard, the league’s best center, gives Houston an offensive force in the paint as well as another imposing rim protector to go along with Omer Asik (1.1 blocks per game in 2012-13).

The Howard acquisition also raised the team’s expectations. ESPN’s Summer Forecast projects the Rockets to go 53-29 this season. Houston also received 45 votes from the Worldwide Leader’s panel to finish as Western Conference champions, which was fourth-most on the list of contenders.

Fifty wins seems reasonable for a team with this much talent (though you could have said the same thing about last year’s Lakers, too). A trip to the finals isn’t out of the question, but there are concerns that need to be addressed first.

For starters, the Big Three have to mesh together. The NBA isn’t fantasy basketball. You can’t throw a bunch of stars together and expect them to dominate. Even the Miami Heat needed a year of developing chemistry before they became champions.

Head coach Kevin McHale is going to have to figure out a way to make everyone happy. Harden is an electrifying scorer that tends to dominate the basketball. Howard is going to want a significant amount of touches as well. It is going to take some time for the two to get on the same page. 

If the Rockets get off to a slow start or problems arise with the scheme, will Howard waltz into general manager Daryl Morey’s office and call for McHale’s termination? You’d like to think those kind of politics are old hat for Howard, but who can say with any real certainty? 

Houston is going to be a formidable contender for years to come. They have an impressive young core that will continue to grow together. Howard is 27 years old, Parsons is 25 and Harden is 24. Even role players such as Asik and Jeremy Lin are under 30.

They have a solid bench with guys like Patrick Beverley, Terrence Jones (assuming he doesn’t start) and Donatas Motiejunas. They also have a head coach with a championship pedigree from his playing days with the Boston Celtics.

That being said, the stars aren’t aligned just yet. ESPN’s prediction of 53 wins seems right on the money. In the playoffs, Houston will probably enter as the third or fourth seed.

Any chance of topping that will require a number of things to fall into place. Harden, Howard and Parsons will need time to adjust to each other, and the West is still too top-heavy for Houston to make a run this season.

The Rockets’ time will come eventually but, as we’ve seen in the past, it will take more than putting a few flashy names together for this team to live up to the hype.

via Why Houston Rockets Won’t Exceed Expectations in 2013-14 | Bleacher Report.