Hot Take Marathon: No Conference Finals for Houston
Nov. 15, 2017 - Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
*The NBA offseason is cooling down, but the takes at OTG aren't. This month, we are hitting you with the Hot Take Marathon. Check back every day for a spicy NBA take!*
The Houston Rockets are coming off their most successful regular season in franchise history, winning 65 games. They were a Chris Paul injury from beating the Warriors, although we could argue about it. This offseason was huge for them and in my humble opinion they completely blew it.
The Rockets blew the doors off the league with James Harden and Chris Paul unleashing Clint Capela as a rim runner with three point threats surrounding them. Defensively, the Rockets used a heavy switching scheme that took them to a top 10 defensive rating that made them a serious threat to the Warriors. The Rockets return MVP James Harden along with Chris Paul and finally were able to lock Clint Capela up for the next 5 years. Bringing back those three is huge for the Rockets, but there were so many other players that contributed to this juggernaut.
Players like Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute, and PJ Tucker were vital to the Rockets success. Unfortunately, the Rockets lost two of those three players. They are replacing those two with Carmelo Anthony and will likely expand Gerald Green’s role. Those two are not exactly defensive stalwarts. In addition, Carmelo Anthony’s unwillingness to accept the role that his skill is suited for is troubling. He has clashed with Mike D’Antoni in the past and he is not a player that fits into a free flowing offensive system like the Rockets. It is a terrible fit.
This leads the Rockets to their current roster construction, which to me is reminiscent of the team they were in the 2016-17 season. That season they outscored their opponents and were not a great defensive team. That team was able to win 55 games in a Western Conference that featured 8 teams that finished below .500. However, that is not the Western Conference of the upcoming season. There are legitimately 12 teams that could fight for playoff spots.
The Rockets will still be a playoff team in the Western Conference, but to me they will suffer the same fate that they endured in the 2017 playoffs, a 2nd round exit. Despite being so close to dethroning the Warriors last season, that is as close as this team will get. After their early exit this season, the Rockets will kick themselves for signing Chris Paul to that huge deal.