Could the Houston Rockets Have Still Been a Playoff Team without James Harden Acquistition?

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What is the Biggest Obstacle to Houston’s Success This Postseason?

All things even, Asik is a below average shot blocker, and the Rockets are a poor shot blocking team. Even if Terrence Jones continues to reject players at his torrent rate, Kevin McHale will be able to institute much better defensive schemes with a big man clogging the paint who can protect the rim.

Without that, when perimeter defenders are beaten off the dribble, the Rockets are simply exposed, and it’s a part of the problem defensively which has held the team back from taking the next step towards being a potential 50-win team.

The biggest problems for the Houston Rockets, after mentioning the brilliance of Lin, Harden, Parsons and Asik—is the fact that their power forwards are so weak and their bench so shallow. The Rockets have three very good prospects at the 4-spot, but all three are just that—prospects. Greg Smith is the most experienced of the trio, and he’s in his second NBA season with only 76 games under his belt.

Apr 9, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets power forward Donatas Motiejunas (20) drives the ball during the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Robinson and Donatas Motiejunas are both rookies, and neither was expected to be immediate impact players. Yet, D-Mo has started 14 games this season, and he posted 16.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and two assists per-36 minutes in his 43 games this season.

Some have gone as far as to compare the Lithuanian big man to a young Pau Gasol, and the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted him No. 20 overall in 2011. He was traded along with Jonny Flynn and a future second round pick for Brad Miller, Nikola Mirotic, Chandler Parsons and a future first round pick (Parsons was then sold back for cash).

The Rockets knew they had a premier talent in Motiejunas, but had to wait an extra season to get him aboard.

Nikola Mirotic is said to have a very high upside, as well, but for now Kevin McHale will work on inculcating his great footwork into the seven-footer. He’ll need more time in the weight room, and he has a lot of work to develop some of the more fine tuned aspects both offensively and defensively.

But Motiejunas could eventually be a No. 1 or No. 2 option type of talent, and what makes it so frightening for the rest of the NBA is that the Rockets already have James Harden for that purpose.

It’s more of an ultimate long-term upside to project that type of ceiling for D-Mo, but his ability to stretch the court to the three point line, run the court gracefully and speedily and pass the ball coherently within an offense he’s still new to, that has many raving about the rookie’s upside.