5 Questions Houston Rockets Must Answer To Solidify Contender Status

5 Questions Houston Rockets Must Answer To Solidify Contender Status

Houston Rockets
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets organization has been under immense pressure to succeed after landing James Harden two years ago. And after bringing Dwight Howard in this season, the championship expectations are already looming so a fourth place finish may not suffice. Regardless of the expectations set on the team, they must address five questions that still remain before they are considered legitimate contenders.

5. Free Agency

Chandler Parsons
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

5. Free Agency

Chandler Parsons
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason will be huge for many teams if they can land the "big one" in the free agency market. With players like Chandler Parson and Patrick Beverly not guaranteed money for next season, the Rockets will have to make some big decisions that will impact their championship possibilities.

4. Player Dissatisfaction

Jeremy Lin
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

4. Player Dissatisfaction

Jeremy Lin Copy
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

Issues with player roles have been swirling inside the Rockets organization. Omer Asik has stated his unhappiness with Dwight Howard coming in and rumors of Jeremy Lin's displeasure with his role have been documented. It is up to the Houston Rockets to figure out who needs to stay and who needs to go before they can make a serious run at a title.

3. Live By The Three, Die By The Three

James Harden
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

3. Live By The Three, Die By The Three

James Harden
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The three-ball is a significant part of the Houston Rockets' offense, but can it carry them in the playoffs? In the regular season the long ball is a more effective strategy, but most teams that rely on shooting alone do not produce much success. If the Rockets cannot adopt a stronger half-court game with an inside presence, they may never reach their full potential.

2. Can They Commit To Defense?

James Harden
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

2. Can They Commit To Defense?

James Harden
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets love putting up high numbers on the scoreboard and exchanging blows, but without a conscious effort on the defensive end, they will become a carbon copy of the Phoenix Suns team of the past that could never get over the hump in the West.

1. Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

1. Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard's new nickname should be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Sometimes the Dwight from Los Angeles appears and sometimes the Dwight from Orlando shows up. His lack of consistency and effort should be a serious concern for the Rockets. If they can somehow channel the dominant, aggressive Howard who played both sides of the ball, there is no doubt Houston can be the favorite in the West.

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