SportsRadio 610's Shaun Bijani gives his grades for the Rockets' 43-29 season.(credit: Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adelman and his staff get a B because I'm not sure who would have done a better job getting the most out of this group of players than him. He's been around them for five years and brought in guys he's familiar working with (IE: Kevin Martin and Brad Miller). I would have given him a B+, but I think what this team has lacked defensively is not just because they didn't have a true center or other defensive capable players. It's because they miss Tom Thibodeau - guy that demands tenacious defense for 48 minutes.
Darrel Morey gets a B+ for now, but I think much of what he'll be remembered for has really yet to happen. He's made good moves to improve this team, trading for Kevin Martin, getting rid of Tracy McGrady's contract for draft picks and Jordan Hill. He made great draft acquisitions with Chase Budinger and Patrick Patterson. He brought in Courtney Lee and chose Kyle Lowry over Aaron Brooks to lead the offense.
The Rockets had the best offense since the All-Star Break. Kevin Martin and Luis Scola set the tone in early stages of games. Their tenacity and creative ways of scoring made defenders collapse on them and free up one of best three-point shooting back courts in the league. Chuck Hayes gave the Rockets extra possessions and was a beast on the boards as was Patrick Patterson late in the season. Rick Adelman is an offensive genius and knows how to use talent, which the Rockets clearly have. I'd give them an A+, but they failed to execute too many times in key games this season.
It's tough for me to grade this portion. Maybe I'm too nice, but I gave them a C because I think they did as good a job defensively with the players they had. The defense picked it up considerably after the trades, because there was a sense of urgency.
Once Aaron Brooks was out of the equation, Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic accepted their roles and performed well. Lowry averaged nearly 20 points per contest after the trade and his three-point attempts improved, making him a real threat. Kevin Martin stayed healthy! He played in 79 games for the Rockets this season after three consecutive injury-riddled seasons. He was a quiet assassin, averaging just over 23 points per game.
Once Shane Battier was traded, Chase Budinger surprised us with his ability to score 3-pointers. He didn't settle for bad shots, and he attacked the basket and learned to finish in traffic. Budinger also became a better defender down the stretch, which could help his case for remaining a starter next season. Courtney Lee was a defensive upgrade off the bench, and his offensive game flourished once he he got consistent playing time. Lee finished the season as one of the most accurate three-point shooters in the league.
All things considering? Come on! For the second consecutive season, Chuck Hayes (6'6') has started at center. He's trimmed down and has polished his offensive game. Credit the guy who went up against the best forwards and centers. The Rockets are well above .500 with him in the starting lineup - not a bad second option when Yao Ming, a 7-foot, six-inch defensive anchor and dominant scorer, is on the shelf.
Red Nation, you did a heck of a job this year! Most of the fans understood the hand that Rick Adelman and the Rockets were dealt. Red Nation stuck with the team through the injuries and lowpoints, selling out Toyota Center 13 times this season. The Red Rowdies were terrific again! I have to say GREAT JOB to the fans. They are passionate about this team, but the fan base has taken a hit, though. I'd be naive to think otherwise. The Rockets fan base has been extremely loyal over the years and will rebound and be better than ever, because this team isn't too far away from competing - and I mean seriously competing - for a Western Conference Championship.
Rockets 121, Timberwolves 102
Click the link above to see photos from the Rockets' last game of the season.