Houston Rockets team report
The Houston Rockets have gone from Western Conference playoff contenders to West title contenders with one move this offseason, and the NBA Odds are reflecting that. Even though they may not be a great bet to add to your NBA Picks this season, do they have value in the offseason future odds? Let’s take a look and see what the Rockets have done to create all of this hype.
The first season with James Harden was fantastic in Houston. They went from lottery team to the 7th seed in the West, and Harden had a career season coming over from Oklahoma City. He averaged over 26 points per game, and the Rockets were just behind the Nuggets at season’s end for the #1 scoring team in the NBA.
However with the fast-paced scoring style of Kevin McHale, the Rockets weren’t great defensively. Outside of Omer Asik and Harden in some cases, they lacked great individual defenders. This led to them giving up almost 103 points per game, while their opponent’s averaged shooting over 45% from the floor and almost 37% from three point range. After they were bounced by the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs, the Rockets have put in motion a series of moves, and they have landed another super-star player in consecutive off seasons.
It started with waiving a few players, and then trading Thomas Robinson to Portland for a couple of second round picks and some euro-players. Then they caught the big fish. Dwight Howard signed a 4-year $88 million deal to tag-team with James Harden for a shot at the Western Conference title.
This move does two things. Firstly, it gives Harden a somewhat reliable 2nd option in the post, and a huge weapon defensively. Scoring will be the one thing that will make or break Howard with the Rockets. Obviously he will get some easy baskets in transition, as he runs the floor very well. However when playoff time comes, Howard will have to be a threat to get baskets in a half-court setting. The West is very improved this season, and if Howard and the Rockets get into a game with the Thunder, Spurs or even the Clippers or Warriors, they will have to prove they can beat those teams in more ways than just running them out of the arena.
Much like the Thunder, the Rockets come into the offseason very overvalued after the acquisition of Howard. They went all the way to +1000 to win the NBA Title this season, which is ahead of teams with more playoff experience in the West, like the Spurs and Clippers for instance.
I’m not saying the Rockets don’t have a title shot, but they are still very young. If Harden is as good as we think he is, then it can be done, because then Howard doesn’t have to be the leader. However the Rockets are still very green, and I think that will show once the season comes. Don’t overvalue the Rockets just because Howard signed there. I think they are still outside of the top three in the West. Almost all of the other top teams in the West are bad matchups for them once playoff time comes.