2019-20 NBA Team Preview Series: Houston Rockets
The 2019-2020 NBA season starts October 22nd and to get you ready for tip-off, Off the Glass is previewing all 30 teams. Today we look at the Houston Rockets.
2018-19 Record: 53-29; 1st in Southwest Division; lost to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Semifinals (4-2).
Season Recap: After almost knocking off the Warriors the postseason prior, the Rockets stumbled out of the gate last season due to injuries, bad rotational fits, and subpar efforts. However, James Harden ascended to a new level, keeping Houston afloat with one of the best offensive seasons in NBA history. Chris Paul, Clint Capela, and Eric Gordon were all able to get healthy by the time the playoffs rolled around, but the squad could not take advantage of a Kevin Durant-less Warriors team, falling to Golden State for the fourth time in five seasons.
Key Losses: Chris Paul (trade), Kenneth Faried (FA), Iman Shumpert (FA)
Key Additions: Russell Westbrook (trade), Tyson Chandler (FA), Ryan Anderson (FA)
Preview: The Rockets opted to appeal to the favor of their superstar by going out and getting his best friend and former running mate, Russell Westbrook. The much-anticipated marriage between Harden and Westbrook will ultimately determine the ceiling for the Rockets. Despite dishing away Chris Paul to Oklahoma City, they return the core of Gordon, Capela, PJ Tucker, and Danuel House. A plethora of concerns have risen due to questions over chemistry and style, but the two stars are adamant on a cohesive system orchestrated by Mike D’Antoni.
Player to watch: Russell Westbrook
Team X-Factor(s): Defense and rebounding
Worst-case scenario: Harden and Westbrook show that they are unable to co-exist in the same backcourt, while the Rockets are struck by the injury bug once again, resulting in Houston missing the playoffs altogether.
Best-case scenario: Westbrook puts the Rockets over the top, winning their first title since 1995. Both he and Harden are able to help their respective legacies tenfold.
2019-20 Prediction: 55-27; 1st in Southwest Division; WCF Semifinals