2017-18 Record: 65-17, 1st in West
What a season it was for the Houston Rockets in 2017-18. The tandem of Chris Paul and James Harden defied all critics that said they couldn’t play in the same team, by carrying a Rockets side all the way to the Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately, they bowed out to the Warriors after being up 3-2 in the series, but if the Chris Paul injury in Game 6 never happened, who knows what could have been.
Surprisingly, the Rockets have decided to mix things up again this season by making a whole host of changes to the roster.
After a failed stint in Oklahoma Carmelo Anthony has taken his talents to Houston to team up with good friend Chris Paul. Melo is reportedly willing to come off the bench if it’s for the betterment of the team, which is interesting considering he laughed off the same scenario just a season ago.
Other notable arrivals include Michael Carter-Williams (Hornets), Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight (Suns).
Notable departures are Luc Mbah a Moute (Clippers), Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson (Suns).
Despite all these high profile off-season moves by the Rockets, the most underrated and in our opinion best deal that was done by their board was the re-signing of big-man Clint Capela to a long-term deal. He’s a perfect fit for the Rockets on both ends of the floor and at 24-years-old is only going to get better.
Offseason Arrivals: Carmelo Anthony, Michael Carter-Williams, James Ennis III (free agent), Marquese Chriss, Brandon Knight (Suns), Vincent Edwards, Isaiah Hartenstein (draft)
Offseason Departures: Ryan Anderson, De’Anthony Melton, Trevor Ariza (Suns), Luc Mbah a Moute (Clippers), Aaron Jackson (waived)
What to Expect?
We expect the Rockets to be serious contenders again this season. The most important thing for them in the off-season was retaining the trio of Harden, Paul and Capela, who were only involved in a handful of losses when all three took to the court together. If these 3 stars are able to stay healthy, the Rockets will contend again, it’s simple as that.
The other guy that can help elevate the Rockets is Carmelo Anthony. Being the polarizing player he is, Melo’s form will undoubtedly be one of the most popular talking points of the season. Stocks were left quite low at the wing positions with Mbah a Moute and Ariza leaving the team, meaning Anthony’s health and level of play will be extremely important to their success.
Key Player: Chris Paul
If you watched any of the Warriors vs Rockets games in the Conference Finals last season you’d know just how important Chris Paul is to the team. Yes, James Harden is the reigning MVP of the league and their best player, but the support that Paul gives him is second-to-none. At 33-years-of-age Chris Paul is still a top tier point guard in the league and his health in the post-season will be crucial to the Rockets success again this season.
Vegas 2018-19 Win Total
Just like the Warriors line, we feel that Vegas have the Rockets line pretty much spot on. They probably overachieved a little bit last season when they won 65 games and didn’t really suffer the sorts of injuries that the other contending teams did during the regular season. We feel that whether Anthony can find a useful role in the Rockets offence may very well decide whether they go over or under 60 wins this season. However, we’re happy to give them the benefit of the doubt and take the over.