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Lampooned at first by the old guard for his innovative approach to analytics, there’s no doubting Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey anymore. After pulling off last season’s big trade by acquiring James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder, Morey and the Rockets sent shockwaves through the NBA once again by winning the Dwight Howard sweepstakes and firmly establishing the Rockets as a legitimate contender for the 2013-14 championship.
A Brief History
The Rockets were founded in San Diego in 1967 and named for the Southern California aerospace industry. (It should be noted that the organization’s move to Houston (the home of NASA) is one of the rare instances wherein an exported team name actually fits its new home. See: Jazz, Lakers, Grizzlies). In their first few years of existence, the franchise showed tremendous talent evaluation chops by drafting Pat Riley, Elvin Hayes, Calvin Murphy and Rudy Tomjanovich.
After earning just one playoff bid in their four years in San Diego, the team was sold and moved to Houston. In the mid-70s and early 80s, the Rockets were led by two-time league MVP Moses Malone. In the 1980-81 season, with Malone, Tomjanovich and Murphy leading the way, the Rockets overcame a sub-.500 season to reach the playoffs where they would take down the Lakers, Spurs and Kings to earn a finals match-up against the Boston Celtics, which the Rockets would lose 4-2.
In 1993, Leslie Alexander bought the Houston Rockets and with former star Rudy Tomjanovich in the coach’s seat and Hakeem Olajuwon dominating the floor, the Rockets finally won their first championship in 1994. In a mid-season deal in 1995 that reunited the two stars of the vaunted University of Houston “Phi Slama Jama” program, the Rockets acquired Clyde Drexler from the Portland Trail Blazers. With that dynamic duo in place, the Rockets repeated as NBA champions in 1995.
The Future is Now
In the two decades since the back-to-back championships, the Rockets have regularly featured some of the most recognizable faces in the NBA including Steve Francis, Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo and Tracy McGrady but have made it past the first round of the playoffs just once since 1997. If the Rockets can avoid serious injuries, that trend should change immediately.
Built around a core of “foundational” players (a patented Daryl Morey term) James Harden and Dwight Howard in addition to Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin, the Rockets have one of the youngest and most dynamic teams in the league.
After breaking through in his second year out of Florida, the continued development of Parsons will be one of the keys to Houston’s season. With Dwight Howard and James Harden expected to draw much of the attention on the offensive end, Parsons should find plenty of space to operate.
With NBA legend Kevin McHale calling the shots from the bench and helping develop the young bigs, Houston fans have every reason to expect a deep run in the playoffs. Make no mistake, the Toyota Center will be ROCKING in 2013-14. Don’t miss guaranteed savings from ScoreBig.com and get in on the action.