Bloggers Talk: Houston Rockets

One of the newer entries into the TrueHoop network, Red 94 provides “essays and musings” on the Houston Rockets. Since the Nets are playing the Rockets in Jersey tonight, we asked Rahat Huq from Red to provide some musings about the team he follows for NAS’s readers.

NAS: I’m sure you’ve exhausted this topic on Red94, but how do you see the Tracy McGrady situation in Houston playing out? Does he finish the season in Houston and leave elsewhere via free agency, or can the team find some value in return for T-Mac?

I go into depth on McGrady in these three articles. He won’t leave via free agency because, contrary to popular opinion, the team won’t gain any room under the cap by simply relinquishing his rights.  So he’ll either be traded before the off-season or resigned at a more reasonable price.  I don’t know which of those two scenarios will eventually play out.

NAS: The idea that the Rockets are playing above expectations is probably gotten pretty old for Rockets’ fans, but for those of us who follow untalented, struggling rosters (like the Nets), tell us how a team without its three best players from the year before can get off to such a great start like Houston has?

Chemistry.  Belief in the system.  Belief in a certain philosophy.  These all sound cliche, but it’s why the Rockets win.  The individual parts are also probably better than what is perceived.  Each player has certain qualities that aren’t quantified by conventional metrics.  A guy like Chuck Hayes looks like a 6’5 NBDL reject at first glance, but probably uses his body better defensively than anyone in the league.  Daryl Morey and his scouting department pick up on these things and the end result is what you are seeing.

NAS: After a strong postseason, Aaron Brooks continues to be one of the early-season surprises. Are there signs of him slowing down as the season goes on, or do you think he can maintain?

I think he’s a bit overrated at this point.  Struggles with consistency.  Good player and can dominate certain matchups but probably isn’t yet at the level at which he is reputed.

NAS: In the same vain, what are your thoughts on Trevor Ariza’s slide over the past month?

He’s playing horrifically out of role.  I explain this in depth in “Assessing Ariza.” I think he will be fine once he returns to a supporting role, but it was to be expected that he would struggle as currently used.  He’s not a primary option.