The Houston Rockets made a bold move this offseason, acquiring star point guard Chris Paul in a sign-and-trade with the Los Angeles Clippers. The plan is to pair him with MVP candidate James Harden and hope the duo can play well enough to push Houston into contention with the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs.
It is an interesting gamble after last year went so well, but one the front office felt it needed to take since Golden State and San Antonio have such stacked rosters. Some are wondering how well the pairing will work since Harden and Paul both dominate the ball, but they are adamant that it will work out for the best.
2016-17 Record: 55-27 SU, 42-40 ATS, 41-40-1 O/U
2017-18 Regular Season Win Total: 56.5
Odds To Win Western Conference: +1000
Odds To Win NBA Title: +1800
The Rockets surprised many with their play in 2016-17, improving mightily from a fringe playoff team to a legitimate power. Their run was led by Harden, who finished the season averaging 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per contest.
He was helped by the presence of new coach Mike D’Antoni, whose offensive philosophy is pushing the tempo, ball movement and a lot of three-point attempts. It worked for the Rockets and they won their first round series over the Oklahoma City Thunder before falling to the San Antonio Spurs in six games in the Western Conference semifinals.
Houston had nice firepower off the bench a season ago, as Eric Gordon averaged 16.2 points per game and midseason acquisition Lou Williams pitched in with 14.9 points per contest. There were some concerns when Houston lost Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons in the previous two seasons, but this unit seemed to jell the best and helped lead Houston to the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
While it didn’t ultimately end up in a season with the NBA Finals hardware, the showing definitely put the Rockets back on the right track and asserted them as one of the better teams in the league.
While last year was good, the Rockets didn’t feel like they had enough to be a legitimate title contender, and so they jumped at the chance to add Chris Paul when he showed interest in joining the team. Houston was forced to part with some key players off of last year’s squad in the deal, trading to Los Angeles point guard Patrick Beverly, Williams and forward Sam Dekker, among others, but feel like the addition of another star was something they couldn’t pass up.
Harden and Paul are going to lead the way in 2017-18, while Gordon, Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson are still around. P.J. Tucker and Nene are also expected to be key pieces, and it should be apparent pretty early in the season if all the wheeling and dealing will do enough for the Rockets to move up a level and be on par with the great Warriors and Spurs teams. It is a tough bar to clear but Houston is hoping Paul can be a big-time difference-maker.
There is one more large domino that may possibly fall. Disgruntled Knicks star Carmelo Anthony reportedly wants to join Houston, and if the Rockets trade for him, it will add even more talent to the roster.
It is interesting that the team’s projected win total is a half-win lower than what the team totaled last season, but some of that has to do with the uncertainty of how well Paul will jell with Harden initially. The Rockets don’t have great odds to win the conference or the NBA title since they are in the West with the Warriors and Spurs, but a key injury to Golden State could quickly change the landscape.
The Rockets are one of the most intriguing teams in the NBA heading into the 2017-18 season. While some clubs are retreating because of the Warriors’ reign, Houston is intent to take it on with Harden in his prime. The addition of Paul has added potential to this group, and if the front office can somehow get Anthony into the fold, Houston will be a must-see team throughout the year.
|Houston Rockets Regular Season Basketball Schedule|
|Wed, Oct 28||Houston Rockets vs Denver||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Oct 30||Houston Rockets vs Golden State||9:30 PM|
|Sun, Nov 1||Houston Rockets @ Miami||6:00 PM|
|Mon, Nov 2||Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Nov 4||Houston Rockets vs Orlando||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Nov 6||Houston Rockets @ Sacramento||10:30 PM|
|Sat, Nov 7||Houston Rockets @ Los Angeles||10:30 PM|
|Wed, Nov 11||Houston Rockets vs Brooklyn||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Nov 13||Houston Rockets @ Denver||9:00 PM|
|Sat, Nov 14||Houston Rockets vs Dallas||8:00 PM|
|Mon, Nov 16||Houston Rockets vs Boston||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Nov 18||Houston Rockets vs Portland||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Nov 20||Houston Rockets @ Memphis||8:00 PM|
|Sat, Nov 21||Houston Rockets vs NY Knicks||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Nov 25||Houston Rockets vs Memphis||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Nov 27||Houston Rockets vs Philadelphia||8:00 PM|
|Sun, Nov 29||Houston Rockets @ NY Knicks||7:30 PM|
|Mon, Nov 30||Houston Rockets @ Detroit||7:30 PM|
|Wed, Dec 2||Houston Rockets vs New Orleans||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Dec 4||Houston Rockets @ Dallas||8:30 PM|
|Sat, Dec 5||Houston Rockets vs Sacramento||8:00 PM|
|Tue, Dec 8||Houston Rockets @ Brooklyn||7:30 PM|
|Wed, Dec 9||Houston Rockets @ Washington||7:00 PM|
|Sat, Dec 12||Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles||8:00 PM|
|Mon, Dec 14||Houston Rockets @ Denver||9:00 PM|
|Tue, Dec 15||Houston Rockets @ Sacramento||10:00 PM|
|Thu, Dec 17||Houston Rockets @ Los Angeles||10:30 PM|
|Sat, Dec 19||Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles||8:00 PM|
|Mon, Dec 21||Houston Rockets vs Charlotte||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Dec 23||Houston Rockets @ Orlando||7:00 PM|
|Fri, Dec 25||Houston Rockets vs San Antonio||8:00 PM|
|Sat, Dec 26||Houston Rockets @ New Orleans||7:00 PM|
|Tue, Dec 29||Houston Rockets vs Atlanta||8:00 PM|
|Thu, Dec 31||Houston Rockets vs Golden State||7:00 PM|
|Sat, Jan 2||Houston Rockets @ San Antonio||8:30 PM|
|Mon, Jan 4||Houston Rockets @ Utah||9:00 PM|
|Thu, Jan 7||Houston Rockets vs Utah||8:00 PM|
|Sun, Jan 10||Houston Rockets vs Indiana||7:00 PM|
|Tue, Jan 12||Houston Rockets @ Memphis||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Jan 13||Houston Rockets vs Minnesota||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Jan 15||Houston Rockets vs Cleveland||9:30 PM|
|Sun, Jan 17||Houston Rockets @ Los Angeles||9:30 PM|
|Mon, Jan 18||Houston Rockets @ Los Angeles||10:30 PM|
|Wed, Jan 20||Houston Rockets vs Detroit||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Jan 22||Houston Rockets vs Milwaukee||8:00 PM|
|Sun, Jan 24||Houston Rockets vs Dallas||3:30 PM|
|Mon, Jan 25||Houston Rockets @ New Orleans||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Jan 27||Houston Rockets @ San Antonio||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Jan 29||Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City||8:00 PM|
|Sat, Jan 30||Houston Rockets vs Washington||8:00 PM|
|Tue, Feb 2||Houston Rockets vs Miami||8:00 PM|
|Thu, Feb 4||Houston Rockets @ Phoenix||10:30 PM|
|Sat, Feb 6||Houston Rockets vs Portland||5:00 PM|
|Tue, Feb 9||Houston Rockets @ Golden State||10:30 PM|
|Wed, Feb 10||Houston Rockets @ Portland||10:30 PM|
|Fri, Feb 19||Houston Rockets @ Phoenix||9:30 PM|
|Tue, Feb 23||Houston Rockets @ Utah||9:00 PM|
|Thu, Feb 25||Houston Rockets @ Portland||10:00 PM|
|Sat, Feb 27||Houston Rockets vs San Antonio||8:00 PM|
|Mon, Feb 29||Houston Rockets @ Milwaukee||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Mar 2||Houston Rockets vs New Orleans||8:00 PM|
|Sat, Mar 5||Houston Rockets @ Chicago||8:30 PM|
|Sun, Mar 6||Houston Rockets @ Toronto||6:30 PM|
|Wed, Mar 9||Houston Rockets @ Philadelphia||7:00 PM|
|Fri, Mar 11||Houston Rockets @ Boston||7:30 PM|
|Sat, Mar 12||Houston Rockets @ Charlotte||7:00 PM|
|Mon, Mar 14||Houston Rockets vs Memphis||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Mar 16||Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles||9:30 PM|
|Fri, Mar 18||Houston Rockets vs Minnesota||8:00 PM|
|Sat, Mar 19||Houston Rockets @ Atlanta||7:30 PM|
|Tue, Mar 22||Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Mar 23||Houston Rockets vs Utah||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Mar 25||Houston Rockets vs Toronto||8:00 PM|
|Sun, Mar 27||Houston Rockets @ Indiana||6:00 PM|
|Tue, Mar 29||Houston Rockets @ Cleveland||8:00 PM|
|Thu, Mar 31||Houston Rockets vs Chicago||7:00 PM|
|Sun, Apr 3||Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City||3:30 PM|
|Wed, Apr 6||Houston Rockets @ Dallas||9:30 PM|
|Thu, Apr 7||Houston Rockets vs Phoenix||8:00 PM|
|Sun, Apr 10||Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles||3:30 PM|
|Mon, Apr 11||Houston Rockets @ Minnesota||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Apr 13||Houston Rockets vs Sacramento||8:00 PM|
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