We interrupt the obsessive Matt Schaub/Gary Kubiak coverage for some Rockets banter...
You guys are cool with this, right? I'm not sure if you remember, but our NBA team in town is relevant again!
(I'm saying this next paragraph in that prodding, "trying to remind you" voice tone.)
Remember? They had a huge offseason....where they signed the best center in basketball....got rid of their first round pick who couldn't get on planes....the Rockets! You know them.
(And hopefully, you'll be able to see them. This TV stuff with Comcast is getting ugly, weird and hard to follow.)
Dwight Howard is here now to continue the Rockets' tradition of All-NBA big men -- Moses, Hakeem, Kelvin Cato, Yao and now Dwight. (Just making sure you're paying attention with Cato.)
And after a 2011-2012 season in Orlando, where he kind of ran himself out of town while undermining his head coach, and a 2012-2013 season in Los Angeles where he didn't get along with Kobe Bryant and was never really embraced (also, he was still somewhat injured), Houston is like the beach in Zihuatanejo at the end of Shawshank Redemption for Dwight.
So how has the bonding gone so far with his new teammates?
Well, it would appear to be going swimmingly, thanks for asking!
Shortly after the contract signing ceremony and coronation of Dwight at the Toyota Center back in July, he and most of the rest of his new teammates jumped on a bird to LA to work out and spend a little quality bonding time together at In N Out Burger and the Apple Pan. (Admittedly, I may be projecting when I list the two "hot spots" where they hung out.)
This preseason, the Rockets are one of a handful of teams that get to travel outside the country for a couple of preseason games, spending the last week or so in the Philippines and Taipei, Taiwan. Again, this gave the young Rockets a chance to build chemistry, on the road in a strange land, albeit one that welcomed them all as if they were really, really tall versions of the Beatles.
So, after a full offseason with his new crew, and with the regular season just two weeks away, now is probably a good time to get Dwight's assessment of how he thinks this Rockets team compares talent-wise with his previous employers, specifically the 2009 Orlando Magic since that's Dwight's only team to make an NBA Finals.
Courtesy of a fine article by Josh Robbins from the Orlando Sentinel, here is his paraphrasing of Dwight's overview of the 2013-2014 Rockets as relates to the 2008-2009 Orlando Magic:
Howard views the Rockets as a championship contender.
Okay, that's good....
He thinks Houston has similar talent to the 2008-09 Magic squad he led to the NBA Finals.
Okay, Dwight was a clear man among boys on that 2009 Orlando team, so I should hope the Rockets have at least similar, if not better talent....
On Tuesday, Howard compared Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons to Hedo Turkoglu and Rockets shooting guard James Harden to Courtney Lee but also added that Harden has more scoring ability. He compared Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley to Rafer Alston and Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin to Anthony Johnson....
Um, okay...now I'm trying to decipher whether or not Dwight likes his new teammates.
Let's take them one at a time:
In 2009, Hedo Turkoglu was a decent wing scorer who didn't play much defense, and then left shortly thereafter for a big payday with the Raptors (after supposedly giving his word to the Blazers that he was theirs). He never averaged more than 12 points a game after 2009. All due respect, Dwight, I hope (and think) Chandler Parsons has more to offer than Hedo Turkoglu.
(I won't even mention the fact that facially Turkoglu looks like he's been beaten with a sock full of pennies, and Chandler Parsons looks like he fronts for a boy band. I'm fairly certain that if any girls between the ages of 14 and 25 see this article, they're going to storm Dwight's house with weapons. Which in teenage girl vernacular means they will bully Dwight into some sort of eating disorder.)
However, Turkoglu and Parsons are both 6-foot-10, so there's that.
Continuing with Dwight's personal preview of the 2013-14 Rockets, the "James Harden to Courtney Lee" doesn't really hold water for me either. I mean, yes, James Harden does have more scoring ability than Courtney Lee. A lot more. In fact, James Harden has more scoring ability than most human beings, in or out of the NBA. Conversely, Lee has far better defensive chops than Harden, who really has no defensive chops at all. Actually, come to think of it, Harden and Lee are nothing alike! Bad job by you on that one, too, Dwight.
However, Harden and Lee are both 6-foot-5, so there's that.
As for the point guard comparisons, I can tell you right now that if the Rockets point guard combination of Beverley and Lin gives the team a facsimile of the Rafer Alston/Anthony Johnson tandem, Rockets fans will be storming Daryl Morey's seat out among the people in Section 100-whatever-it-is at Toyota Center. On this, there can be no debate.
Dwight does remember that Jameer Nelson was the starting point guard on that Orlando team, right?
Of course, Beverley and Lin, like Alston and Johnson, are both around 6-foot-1 and 6-foot-3, respectively.
So when it comes to scouting, it would appear that Dwight is really good at one thing -- ball-parking the heights of his former and current teammates. That's it. He's the best at that!
As for his true scouting prowess, I think it's lacking a little, although it would be fascinating to see Dwight's big board if they made him a general manager of one draft. I'm guessing it would be a list of 100 guys who are 6-foot-9 with Dwight thinking, "Hell, any of these guys could turn into the next LeBron James!"
And then, right after that, Isiah Thomas would sue Dwight for plagiarizing his big board.
The only thing better than Dwight's evaluation of the roster around him was his scouting report on Texans:
On Tuesday afternoon, a Houston TV reporter asked Howard whether he's a true Texan now.
Howard responded he has a cowboy hat at his new home and some chaps to wear over jeans. He added he plans to order some cowboy boots in his size.
Oh, you thought I meant his scouting report on the Houston Texans? No, I meant people from the state of Texas.
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Here's his scouting report on the Houston Texans:
I'm enjoying the Dwight Howard Era already! Now it's time to go put on my chaps and ride my horse Prickly Pete to the studio!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.