Bet Houston Rockets Over 56.5 Wins After Productive Offseason

Zack Jones

Monday, October 9, 2017 1:45 AM UTC

Monday, Oct. 9, 2017 1:45 AM UTC

Last year's Houston Rockets team soared over the projected win total line, and after a productive offseason, are we safe to expect the Rockets to once again outshoot the competition and go over the pre-season projections?

The Houston Rockets enter the 2017-18 campaign with the second-highest win total on the board. Sitting only behind Golden State (67.5), the Rockets’ win total currently rests at 56.5. When NBA odds were first released, both the Rockets and Spurs sat at 55.5, but betting has since caused the Spurs’ number to fall to 54.5, while the bettors must now lay an extra game in order to cash in.

The Pick: OVER 56.5

NBA Season Win Totals that Offer Best Value

Last year's Rockets opened with a season win total number of 41.5 but stunned the league with its impressive firepower. What they lacked in defense (18th in the league) they more than made up for on the offensive side of the ball, outshooting all who faced them.

This year’s squad has made improvements on both sides of the ball, and the current over/under total of 56.5 is just slightly higher than last season's 55 wins campaign.

Houston did show weaknesses in the playoffs, but knowing that that is of no concern when it comes to win totals, I am expecting them to clear this number with ease. With most teams simply looking to create a formula to beat the Warriors in a 'Best of Seven' situation, I see this Rockets team as one who will prove to be a regular season powerhouse. They will most likely lock up the second seed in the West while winning the Southwest Region over the favored, but aging Spurs.

Let me explain…

The Trade that Started it All
One of the most interesting moves of the NBA Offseason took place June 28th when it was announced that the LA Clippers’ Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets. This pairs the future Hall of Fame point guard with Houston’s James Harden, a move that the franchise hopes will give them a chance at competing with the Golden State Warriors for the Western Conference Title.

Rockets Make it Look Easy in Paul's Pre-Season Debut
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The Chris Paul era in Houston starts with a bang. #Rockets

— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) October 4, 2017

Will they Fit? 
There is one glaring question that has to be asked: “Can they share the court?”

James Harden’s rise to fame came in his Sixth Man of the Year campaign as part of a dynamic 2011-12 Oklahoma City Thunder team, where he was asked to sub in behind the talents of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. 

That season saw Kevin Durant clinch his third NBA Scoring Title, and with Westbrook filling in the #2 role. Harden was able to make the most of his playing time, all while clearly understanding his role on a team with a mission. 

Despite the fact that James Harden was an NBA MVP frontrunner last season, some have spoken out saying that Harden is simply not able to lead a team. His personality lacks that Kobe-esque instinct, the same instinct Durant lacked in Harden’s Sixth Man of the Year season that might have cost the Thunder a ring. Need further proof? Look at Harden’s epic collapse in last year’s playoffs, and a collapse that we still have not gotten a clear excuse for yet.

This is where Chris Paul makes sense to the Rockets.

Chris Paul wants to be the leader. He wants the last shot, and what he lacks in stature, he makes up with in sheer confidence as a floor commander. Locker room gossip even tends to suggest that he is outright aggressive and difficult to deal with given his mindset, to the point it will be interesting to see how Blake Griffin develops now that he can put the ball on the floor rather than play his previous role.

So yes, we are dealing with two different personalities here, but that can be a great thing. Harden just signed a massive contract stating that Houston is his new home, and CP3 simply wants a final chance at securing a ring. Best case for both players is for CP3 to take on the veteran leadership role while allowing Harden to remain the face and future of the franchise. 

Verdict: Offensively speaking, the two should be able to combine to carry this team offensively. Harden has proven that he is able to take the backseat when needed, and with his extension behind him, he can afford to let someone else help carry the load.

The Houston Rockets earned the 10th best offensive rating of all time last season, and adding Chris Paul to the mix is only a step in the right direction.

Defensively Speaking…
The Rockets ranked 18th in the league defensively last season, and their defensive production fell further in the playoffs. A key piece to their defensive front, Patrick Beverley, was traded in the CP3 deal, which is a blow to the team, but lets do remember that Paul was ranked 10th in Defensive Win Shares Per Game last season (0.052), and while this is not the best indicator of a player's defensive prowess, Beverley ranked 95th in the same category.

Houston also added Luc Richard, Mbah a Moute and PJ Tucker over the summer, and pre-season projections actually have high hopes for their D. 

My only concern is that the team loses its firepower when their defensive minded players take the floor, and this could become an issue given that overall firepower is what defined Houston last season.

Verdict: Defense is what held this team back last year if anything, and even if Paul and Harden have early season issues with sharing responsibilities, the improved defensive unit should bail the team out if growing pains are an issue.

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