Dwight Howard Set to Make Rockets Debut vs. Pelicans in Preseason Action

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIOctober 5, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 27: Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets poses for a team photographer during Houston Rockets Media Day at the Toyota Center on September 27, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The 2013 NBA preseason has commenced, and the league's brightest stars have already taken center stage. As the regular season nears, few players will garner as much attention as new Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard.

On Saturday, Oct. 5, Howard will make his Rockets debut against the New Orleans Pelicans in preseason action.

He signed a four-year deal worth $88 million during the 2013 offseason, hoping to become the next great Rockets big man. Following in the footsteps of Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes and Yao Ming, Howard has inspired hope of an NBA championship coming to Houston.

The last time that the Rockets won an NBA championship was 1995, when Olajuwon and head coach Rudy Tomjanovich led Houston to its second of back-to-back titles.

Against the Pelicans, the NBA community will get its first look at how head coach Kevin McHale plans to utilize the three-time Defensive Player of the Year award-winner. This is a critical factor, as the Rockets ran an up-tempo offense with little value of defense in 2012-13.

The proof is in the numbers.

During the 2012-13 NBA regular season, the Rockets led all teams with a pace of 98.6, per John Hollinger of ESPN. Houston was also last in the NBA in turnover ratio and ranked 28th at 102.5 points allowed per contest.

When the Rockets signed Howard, they hoped that the latter number would change. During the preseason, the pace must decrease as well.

The Los Angeles Lakers attempted to run an up-tempo offense with Howard at center and learned how difficult it is to set up a defense in that manner. Howard will help the Rockets, but if Houston is to become elite, it will need to slow things down.

Tune in to CSN Houston at 8:00 p.m. ET to see Howard and the Rockets hit the floor on Saturday.