A lot of angles that are personal and not just basketball when it comes to the season opener between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets, as Dwight Howard facing off against Kobe Bryant, Jeremy Lin playing against his old team and James Harden trying to show he’s the best shooting guard in the NBA all condensed into 48 minutes of NBA action.
Where do we begin? With Bryant of course, coming back after playing just six regular season games in 2013-2014. Healthy, with the biggest contract in the NBA, playing next to players that probably won’t help him get into the playoffs. But Bryant always feels like he has to prove something. To the doubters, to himself, to anyone who hates him. It often ends with impressive numbers, but can he keep doing it at his age?
The Lakers added quite a few players over the summer. Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer stand on the front of the acquisition line. Julius Randle is a lottery pick rookie who had his ups and downs during the preseason, but should be a significant force down low for the Lakers, usually coming off the bench. The Lakers in general look pretty good on the inside, at least offensively. Defensively? We’re probably going to see the Lakers giving up 105 points and more most of the time.
The Houston Rockets have changed as well, although not for the better, probably. They have added Trevor Ariza, but this now is Harden’s and Howard’s team completely. No Jeremy Lin, no Chandler Parsons, no Omer Asik. It’s hard to see them following expectations and aspirations they had for themselves last season. Maybe a playoff team, but more? It’ll take a really huge season from both All-Stars playing on the Rockets team.
Jeremy Lin is facing off against his former team. Instead of getting to run the offense as a point guard, he was often relegated to being perimeter watcher while Harden dribbles and shoots, repeating that time after time. Bryon Scott was planning on Steve Nash as his starting point guard, but Nash is out for the season, maybe out for good. Lin will be starting, although in Scott’s perverse logical thinking, Ronnie Price, a point guard who is a backup at best, might be in the lineup soon enough so Lin can lead the second unit.
Not a lot of expectations from the Lakers this season, but at least this team has potential to be very fun to watch, especially once Nick Young comes back from his injury. In general, injuries seem to be once again something that follows the Lakers around for over a season, while the Rockets only have a slightly dinged Dwight Howard to worry about. It won’t keep him from playing in Los Angeles and against Bryant for the first time since leaving LA.