Grades Are In: Rockets 2014 Report Card
It was a very interesting year for your Houston Rockets. They struggled early, hit an incredible hot streak at the start of the new year and rode it all the way to the fourth seed in the playoffs. They battled through injuries and lack of experience playing with one another, nevermind an extremely tough Western Conference. Unfortunately, it came to a heartbreaking end last week in Portland.
Photo by Jeff Balke Fans struggled with the ups and downs of the Rockets this year.
There will be plenty of questions as to what they will do now as the draft and free agency loom. There are complications with the contracts of Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin as well as deals that will likely have to be made with Chandler Parsons. But, for now, we look back at the year that was and drop some grades on the boys in red including the rotation players, bench, coaching and front office.
Patrick Beverley B-
It is tough to give a guy like Beverley, a lunch pail player who brings it every night, anything lower than the best grade possible. He is the type of player you want on your team but hate if he plays for someone else. Still, he was a below average three point shooter this season and had fewer assists per game than his backup. His defense was, as always, stellar, but he probably should be the second best point guard on a very good team.
James Harden B+
Harden had a terrific season on offense. He is one of the elite scorers in the league and the team's most electric player. He also is the best facilitator on the floor most nights, but he had brutal struggles in the playoffs and his defense all year was abysmal. His lack of effort on the defensive end of the floor is so bad, when he isn't hitting shots, he is nearly a liability on the floor. He has the skill to play defense but just seems to zone out far too often, even in the biggest games of the season. If he truly wants to be among the elite, he must learn to play both ways.
Chandler Parsons B
Perhaps the most enigmatic player on the roster from night to night was Parsons. He could have huge offensive outbursts and also have games where he was barely visible on the floor. But, his numbers remained consistent from last year and he had some very big moments throughout the year despite battling some injuries. He is the Rockets most reliable three point shooter and an above average defender most of the time. Like the rest of the team, he needs to mature, but there is no reason he can't continue to improve and be a very valuable part of the Rockets championship aspirations.
Terrence Jones B
Out of nowhere, Jones emerged as the starter at power forward. The Rockets toyed with a "Twin Towers" lineup that lasted about a dozen games, but once Jones grabbed the starting job, he didn't relinquish it...until the playoffs. Jones is a magnificent athlete who hustled on both ends of the floor and was a surprisingly consistent offensive threat. He averaged nearly 12 points and 7 boards, one season removed from playing in the D League. Still, he became a defensive liability against LaMarcus Aldridge (who wasn't?) in the playoffs and must improve defensively (as they all must) if he wants to keep his spot and improve. The good news is that the progress Jones made looks encouraging.
Dwight Howard A-
Howard was everything the Rockets had hoped he would be. He was a terrific post player -- he even showed improvement throughout the years thanks in large part to the tutoring of Hakeem Olajuwon -- even becoming dominant at times. He was one of the league's best rebounders and a tremendous defender. Most importantly, he was healthy virtually the entire season. Other than free throw shooting, which appeared to gradually improve throughout the year, the Rockets couldn't have asked for more from Howard.