"We're going to give it every opportunity to work," McHale said at media day. "If it sucks, I'm surely not going to continue to do it. If it plays well, I'll try and do it more.
"They've got to make it work. I can't make it work. My expectation is to give them every opportunity to make it work."
BACKCOURT: Harden is spectacular. He averaged 25.9 ppg, 5.8 apg and 4.9 rpg, all career highs. (His minutes also were a career-best 38.3 per game.) Harden is not just a great scorer and shooter (37 percent from 3-point range), but a great facilitator. Those assist numbers are high for an off guard.
Harden had to post those assist totals because Jeremy Lin wasn't quite the superstar he was for two weeks in New York City two years ago. His numbers weren't drastically in decline, but he was not as dynamic as he was with the Knicks.
BENCH: This group wasn't a source of strength for the Rockets last season. Carlos Delfino and Beverley were the only real impact second-stringers. Delfino was released in a cost-cutting measure, but Camby and Brewer will bring immediate help.
Beverley is a big key. He could supplant Lin if Lin struggles. Beverley is a big-time energy guy.
Garcia emerged in the postseason, both offensively and defensively. McHale will count on him.
Jones and Smith are athletic, tough guys. Casspi will take Delfino's role, but he's not as good at it.
Motiejunas has a ton of upside and McHale gave him a shot at the starting job last season. He didn't keep it very long, but he has the most potential in the crop of bench forwards.
COACHING: McHale made six All-Defensive teams in his Hall of Fame career. There's a part of him that has to hate this team is so deficient in that aspect.
But, give McHale credit for adapting his personnel last season to their strength. This team can shoot and score and with Howard around, defense will improve.
Coaching Howard has taken years off Stan Van Gundy's and Mike D'Antoni's lives. Howard can be moody and difficult, but neither of those fine gentlemen have McHale's pedigree. He should be alright, although getting Howard his touches in the flow of their offensive structure, coupled with making sure Harden is taken care of, might be the biggest source of stress for McHale.
OUTLOOK: This team is certainly playoff bound, but are they contenders?
With no natural power forward and some question marks on the bench, probably not.
The Rockets are relying on Howard to change their defense and he's capable, but, despite the nickname, he's not Superman. The on-the-ball defense needs to improve drastically.
Expect Houston to still be in the top five offensively. They are loaded on offense. Don't expect much of a decline from Harden and Parsons' numbers could grow.
The NBA is a superstar-driven league and with Harden and Howard, the Rockets have two. They are closer than ever and give General Manager Daryl Morey credit for turning a dreadful roster into a top-10 in the league.
The Rockets could host a first-round playoff series, but they're just not quite at the championship door.