It's time to show some love to this year's Houston Rockets. They have been playing without their two superstars, Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, all season and have managed to start out with a 14-10 record. That's good enough for second in the Southwest Division and for fifth in the conference. To put things in perspective, the Rockets have had to replace a combined 35.3 points, 14.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game without both Yao and McGrady.
Most predicted the team would be lucky to be competing for the 8th seed in the conference with a roster full of role players. This team of role players however has thrived utilizing a long lost art previously used in the NBA to great success called sharing the ball. They have been led by point guard Aaron Brooks with valuable contributions from Carl Landry, Luis Scola and a bench that has shown surprising depth particularly rookie Chase Budinger.
Their major free-agent signing Trevor Ariza, has been a disappointment offensively so far, averaging 17.0 points per game while shooting an abysmal 38.3% from the field. To his credit however, Ariza and the No Stats All-Star, Shane Battier, have teamed up to harass opposing teams' wing players to help lead a Rockets defense that has been able to remain effective without their 7'6 Chinaman shot-blocker in the middle.
Special praise is in order for head coach Rick Adelman who has done a phenomenal job calling the shots from the sidelines. I don't think it's much of a debate for who should be Coach of the Year. It would have been easy for this team to simply play out the year listlessly without their two stars, but Adelman has kept them on the winning path and has extracted more from his players than anybody could have expected.
Here's to the Houston Rockets for playing team ball with a bunch of role players and still getting the job done when nobody gave them much of a chance.