Maybe the most important duo next season for the Houston Rockets is going to involve Jeremy Lin and Dwight Howard, while James Harden takes a backseat, at least in terms of vitality to the chances of the team’s success, as his quality and consistency is less in doubt.
Jeremy Lin becomes that third or fourth player championship teams need to complete the puzzle. Two superstars without anything around them aren’t enough, and Dwight Howard & James Harden are going to need more than their own individual scoring and superiority to make the Rockets a title-contending team in the very tough west.
This isn’t just a one-year project being built in Houston. The Rockets should be here to stay for at least two-three years of being near the top of the Western Conference, but a good and strong start is always recommended so the evil demons don’t start spreading negativity early on, which can be soul crushing to any team with aspirations. Jeremy Lin believing that Howard is going to be huge for the Rockets is a good start.
I think Dwight Howard himself is already pretty deadly of a player. For us, it’s just a matter of getting on the same page and buying into the system, and I think adding Howard as a piece to the puzzle, it’s incredible. I think we’re all extremely excited and we know what we have, and he looks healthy, he looks explosive, and he’s looking better and better in terms of recovering from his back surgery. Howard can really shoot free throws. When we were shooting, he was shooting really, really well. And I think for him it’s just a matter of getting more comfortable in a game. It’s definitely there. Sometimes you’ll see players who might not be able to shoot the free throw that, well, you can understand. But he can really shoot, and that’s something that really caught me by surprise.
You wouldn’t expect anything else from Lin or anyone else on the Rockets to say. The Lakers were bragging about Howard, including his off-game free throw shooting ability, last season as well. But besides the mental block that keeps Howard stuck around the 50% from the line, there might be a genuine attempt top give him the keys to them, instead of being someone who is on hold while waiting for Kobe Bryant to run out of gas, ambition or hope to win an NBA title.
We don’t have the postseason experience. so we’re going to have to make up for that somehow, some way. And we don’t really want to wait around and wait three years down the line to be able to compete for a championship; we want to do that now. If everything jells together in an ideal situation, I think we can be a championship contender for sure. But that’s a big ‘if,’ and we understand that, and our coaching staff understands that. We’re all talking about being committed to winning a championship, and being able to sacrifice. I think sacrifice is going to be a big, big word for our team.
Ego tears teams apart. Howard can tell Lin about that, who was also part of the Knicks, which had plenty of big egos, only without actual success. The relationship between Howard and Harden is vital for this team’s success. They don’t have to be best friends, but they can’t get in each other’s way. The man who might be responsible for mediating between the team’s two main offensive weapons will be Lin, making him more important than ever before for his team, something he wants to be but still hasn’t gotten around to in his short NBA career.