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Rockets no closer to Warriors after unspectacular offseason

Rockets no closer to Warriors after unspectacular offseason
Published On: Wed, Sep 12
Apr 25, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) fouls Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala (9) during the first half in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Houston RocketsA GM Daryl Morey spent last season obsessing over one thing: dethroning theA Golden State Warriors.

Houston nearly pulled off the impossible, pushing Golden State to the brink in the Western Conference finals. And while Clutch City only produced an avalanche of bricked threes when it mattered most, the Rockets gave the Warriors a stiffer challenge than any other opponent sinceA Kevin DurantA joined the 73-win core. Having stumbled upon a formula that worked, Morey should've been more motivated than ever to finish the job.

But you wouldn't know it from the team's unspectacular summer. The Rockets mostly filled their roster with bargain-bin pieces after retainingA Chris PaulA andA Clint Capela. And while Morey has a track record of uncovering diamonds in the rough, his guiding philosophy is to assemble as many stars as possible. In that regard, the Warriors only pulled further away after tacking on a fifth All-Star inA DeMarcus Cousins, while the Rockets remained stuck on two.

Let's take a closer look at the players Morey brought in this summer, and the key questions that have followed them to Houston:

What does Carmelo have left?

AnthonyA is as divisive as ever. He's clearly skilled enough to adapt his game to his diminished athleticism, yet he plays as if he's still in his twenties.

Forget the debate over starting or coming off the bench - the Rockets first have to figure out how much Anthony even has left. Last year's dalliance with theA Oklahoma City ThunderA was nothing short of a disaster, and that version of Anthony won't help any team, let alone a championship contender.

Even in a down year, Anthony shot 42 percent on wide-open threes, and there should be plenty of those to go around in Houston. He can thrive so long as he's satisfied with merely finishing off the opportunities that Paul and James Harden create for him. He can be effective on spot-ups and the occasional post-up when there's a guard switched onto him.

But Anthony insists on taking bad shots. He pulled up 5.5 times per game last season despite making just 39 percent of those looks. Even more concerning was his inability to finish in the paint, as he shot just 51 percent within five feet and saw his free-throw attempts slashed in half. He no longer has the ups to bully his way inside, which is why defenses grant him even more space to jab step to his heart's content before he invariably coughs up a dreaded mid-range jumper. His stubbornness drove Mike D'Antoni to flee New York, so he probably isn't thrilled about this reunion.

Then there's the tricky matter of Anthony's defense. He uses his quick hands effectively when he's a help defender, but the Rockets prefer switching over rotating, which leaves him with only his isolation defense.A Trevor ArizaA excelled in that regard last season, whereas Anthony was specifically targeted as a liability. TheA Utah JazzA went so far as to run their offense throughA Joe InglesA to exploit his laziness.

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