Last year's record? 42-40, missed the playoffs. Once again, with a winning record.
Significant departures? Trevor Ariza(notes). I'd toss in David Andersen(notes) and Tracy McGrady's(notes) names, but it's the Internet, and people tend to get upset about the whole "significant" thing.
Projected record, as predicted three months ago in time to publish in Yahoo! Sports' NBA Preview Magazine? 46-36
Why I think that sounds about right?
This is a team with several different sound options on offense, and this is a team that is made of stern stuff.
The Rockets only made it past 30 wins last season because they refused to take consecutive possessions off, and with Yao Ming(notes) back and Kevin Martin(notes) around for a full season, this group should be able to improve its win/loss total even as the expected "OK, nobody has the strength to care that much" letdown happens.
Houston doesn't seem ripe to pull off a top-10 season on either side of the ball, but it seems just above-average offensively and defensively, which would allow for the win total as listed above.
Why I think I might be terribly, terribly wrong?
Because it's possible, even probable, that Yao Ming only plays 1,500 minutes this season.
I'm not expecting Yao to crumple into a heap again this year, I'd rather not think about that, but a top-five NBA player will be held out and worked on all season as he continues to rehabilitate. This is the best thing for us, as Yao fans, and for the big fella. But this also means that Houston, promising though they may be, will need another year before it can be counted upon to do anything significant. And while Brad Miller can sing and shoot and dip and kill critters with the best of them, he's no Yao.
Even though the Rox should be winning more games than they lose, this is still a holdover year, as the front office figures things out on the fly. And while this team had an impressive singular focus last season, you can only sustain these things for so long. The intensity and competitive zeal that marked that truly impressive 2009-10 run might not return in full force, this year, which could allow for a drop off.
2011-12, however, could be pretty amazing.
Mark Eaton rhymes ...
Made-up limericks about "going for it" in the NBA regular season and in life, from the 7-foot-4 former Utah Jazz center and current celebrity motivational speaker.
Like all centers, Yao Ming is sagacious;
His quest for pure truth is voracious.
If he plays half a game,
Then he won't pull up lame,
They hope, but such logic's fallacious.
This has been a closer look at Chase Budinger, who's down for whatever, bro.
More like the Hugston Rockets, amirite?
The following are scientific facts that have been proven by American journalists who work for the popular American science magazine Scientific American:
1. The Houston Rockets only draft players whose favorite song is either "Open Arms" or "With Arms Wide Open."
2. According to statistics, the most successful way to prank call a member of the Houston Rockets is to say that you're looking for Amanda Hugginkiss.
3. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's favorite television sitcom family of all time is the Hugstables.