3-on-3 Preseason Preview: Spurs at Rockets


Fourth preseason game in nine days. Then the Spurs aren’t in action again until next weekend. It’s a familiar opponent for the Spurs, but luckily they don’t play the Rockets eight times in a month and a half, or whatever it was, like last season.

1. The Rockets built a roster with trades in mind, but how will it play?

Michael Pina, Red94: I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’ll be competitive, but this roster should be extremely entertaining. From Jeremy Lin running constant pick and rolls with the likes of Patrick Patterson, Donatas Motiejunas, Marcus Morris, and, coming off a superb preseason performance against the Thunder, Terrence Jones, to the intriguing point forward experimentation that could take place with Royce White, this team will be a roller coaster ride all season long.

Timothy Varner, 48 Minutes of Hell: Daryl Morey is often lauded as one of the league’s great GMs. He’s smart, but it’s fair to question the effectiveness of his approach. His recent flurry of trades will only make sense when combined with more maneuvering later. The question is whether Morey will ever arrive at the move that brings it all together.

Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: This could be one of the more exciting teams to watch in the league, actually. I’m sure some significant moves will be made over the course of the season, this isn’t a team built for the long haul, but this team as constructed has some player capable of playing an exciting brand of basketball.

2. What path are the Rockets looking to take this season? Contending? Rebuilding?

Michael Pina, Red94: With their current roster construction, the obvious answer is rebuilding. Houston is overflowing with rookies, and second and third year players who’ve yet to establish an identity or permanent role in the NBA (although, honestly, it kinda feels like Chandler Parsons is a five-year veteran). Still, who knows where this team goes? Their front office is the league’s most active, with annual action taking place every trade deadline.

Timothy Varner, 48MoH: The Rockets are rebuilding. I expect Houston’s season to play out just as the team’s offseason—the Rockets are on the prowl for better players.

Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: I’ve always found it interesting that for a GM who knows full well the worst place for an NBA team to be is mediocre, how often the Rockets finish in the middle-of-the-pack. Hopefully this will be the season Houston blows it up and bottoms-out.

3. Gary Neal, Patty Mills, Nando De Colo and Cory Joseph are all battling for minutes as Tony Parker’s backup, who should be considered the front-runner at this point?

Michael Pina, Red94: Speaking relatively, Cory Joseph and Nando De Colo are the two sexier options, and I’m sure Spurs fans would love to see either establish himself in a dependable role with the team. Right now both seem to understand what’s being asked of them, and both look capable of holding their own on the defensive end. That being said, Gary Neal is the best player here; I’d have to side with him.

Timothy Varner, 48MoH: Gary Neal is the incumbent, but I’m giving the edge to Nando De Colo. This actually helps Neal because it allows him to play off the ball, where he’s more comfortable offensively and is better suited to defend shooting guards.

Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: As much as I want a a more natural point guard backing up Tony Parker, I think Gary Neal would be Tony Parker’s backup if the playoffs started today (they don’t). There’s still time for others to make their case and an injury to Manu Ginobili could free Neal up for more time at the 2-guard, but right now Neal’s got the most firm grip on the spot.

  • Fred

    Neal is not a PG & cannot effectively play the position — so why does the experiment linger another year? — I’d like to see what Mills, CJ, & Nando (in that order) can do @ PG

  • assistman

    Re: The Rockets. They have enough promising talent on their roster that it’s possible that at a couple of these guys develop into borderline all-star caliber fixtures in Houston. They need a true superstar, and I don’t see trading for one. McNeil has it right, they are one season away from having a top-five pick that could transform their future for far longer than trading for an aging star would.

    Re: The Spurs. Funny nobody’s predicting Patty Mills as the #2 PG. After last year’s end-of-season stint, and this year’s Olympics, Patty looked like like a dream, and a much better option behind Parker than Neal. I think it depends on what happens in the front court. In the event that Pop has to find a way to incorporate new players into the roles formerly held by Blair and/or Bonner, Neal has an edge in order to retain more overall consistency. We simply have too many PG’s. The Spurs have to find a way to showcase value and make a trade. CoJo belongs in Austin to start the year. De Colo would be exciting, but I just don’t see him getting a significant role this year, though that would be really, really fun to watch. Though each has a compelling case, they are the #6 and #7 guards on this team: odd men out.

  • assistman

    Devi’s Advocate: True, but giving Neal tick there builds his experience, and thus trade value, as a combo guard. It’s not like this team can’t afford to experiment (as consecutive #1 seeds have shown). Besides. playing alongside Manu and Jax off the bench, puts him in many off-the-ball situations while Parker rests.