Even if you’re not completely sold on the Rockets yet, you have to give Daryl Morey a lot of credit for taking a chance and gambling to make his team better entering this season.
Houston took risks but overall look like a better-balanced squad this season compared to last. Parting ways with Chris Paul was the right move for them, but they need to prove it.
Now that the Warriors lost Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson will miss most of the season, this is their chance. They must do whatever it takes to take a step forward and make it to the Finals.
Today, we’ll show you the team they’ll use to try and make those dreams a reality:
Bench: Austin Rivers, Eric Gordon, Ben McLemore, Gerald Green, Gary Clark, Tyson Chandler, Anthony Bennett
Point Guard: Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook will play with a chip on his shoulder, and that’s a scary thought. He’ll be angry, motivated, and determined to prove that all of the narratives about him have been wrong all along.
Westbrook already acknowledged the fact that he’s going to have to make sacrifices to coexist with Harden. He knows the Rockets are Harden’s team, but he’s an upgrade over last year’s version of Chris Paul, for sure.
Shooting Guard: James Harden
James Harden had the best season of his career last year but fell just short of the MVP. Thus, he’ll also be extra motivated this season, especially knowing the Warriors are likely going to be out of Championship contention.
Hopefully, Westbrook’s going to challenge Harden to work harder than ever on the defensive end. We already know what he’s capable of as a scorer and playmaker, so he must deliver in the playoffs once and for all.
Small Forward: Danuel House
Danuel House is going to be this team’s X-factor. He’s not a volume scorer, but he doesn’t need the rock on his hands to find his rhythm either and is a much better defender of what people credit him for.
Obviously, he’s no Trevor Ariza, but people seem to be sleeping on him right now. House is a hard-working wing that can help hide some of Harden’s defensive flaws -- and a perfect fit for D’Antoni’s pace-and-space offense.
Power Forward: PJ Tucker
PJ Tucker is one of the most versatile defenders in the league. He’s fast enough to stay in front of guards and strong enough to contest players like LeBron or Giannis when driving through the lane.
But he’ll be more valuable if he’s capable of consistently hitting the open three, an aspect of his game where he struggled last season. They don’t need him to do much on the offensive end, but he can be a huge difference-maker for them.
Center: Clint Capela
Clint Capela has been putting a lot of work on his jumper this summer. He’s trying to expand his range to suit the needs of modern basketball and has already made some strides on the offensive end as a legit pick-and-roll threat.
Capela’s defensive impact is still a major factor for this team, though. He’s a top-notch rim protector and can contest shots in the perimeter as well. Westbrook is going to bring the best out of his game as a scorer as he did with Steven Adams, so we can expect his numbers to go up next season.