Season Preview: Western Conference Challengers: Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets finally built a team that could challenge but just happened to do it at the time of the Golden State Dynasty, and after losing in the playoffs to Golden State four of the last five seasons they've made a huge change in the off season.
The Rockets traded Chris Paul, two protected first round picks and other draft considerations to bring former league MVP Russel Westbrook to Texas from Oklahoma City. After defeat in last years conference semi-finals, it seemed the Rockets would commit to a complete rebuild but instead they decided to give the current roster a final chance to win together in Houston. It also reunites former teammates Westbrook & James Harden.
Harden and Westbrook, a dream back court duo:
The Rockets believe they have the winning formula with these two guys in the back court and if they can learn to co-exist they there isn't a single back court that comes close to matching them. Both players will have to adapt and begin sharing the ball more and take less shots, while this will be a big change, great players usually learn how to play well together. They had a connection in OKC and they are both much improved players now so all signs point to a dream combo for Houston.
Will playoff hoodoo strike again?
The Rockets have struggled in the playoffs even after having great regular seasons and if it is something that is playing on the minds of the players they could be in for a similar fate this season. For the last five years their main competition has been the Warriors but they now also have both LA teams and Denver to beat if they are to make it to the finals. They will need to get their recently failures out of their minds and hope the Russell Westbrook proves to be the missing piss of the puzzle.
Right decision to give team another chance:
It would have been a mistake to break up this roster without having one last go and winning it all. This could be coach Mike D'Antoni's final season in charge and his best chance of finishing in style is with the roster he has had for his entire time in charge plus the addition of Russell Westbrook. While Chris Paul was a quality player for the Rockets, he is past his best and in the last two seasons injuries have really hampered him so it was time to move him on and I think the decision the franchise has made could prove to be ingenious.
The Rockets season will depend on Harden and Westbrook, they will both need to adapt their games while getting quality support from the likes of Tucker, Gordon & Capela. This may be the final chance for this team and they will need to be better than ever to top this years Western Conference.
Season Prediction: 54-28, 2nd place in the West
The Rockets travel to Milwaukee for the first game of this season, with their first Sky Live game coming on November 1st when they travel to Brooklyn to take on the Nets.