OTG's All-Decade Team: Houston Rockets Edition
Tony Gutierrez (AP)
With the past decade coming to a close, what better way to ring in the new decade by reflecting on the past. Off the Glass is taking a look at each NBA team and selecting their All-Decade squad, which is defined by one guard, one forward, one center, a role player (someone not selected as an All-Star, or to an All-NBA team), and one wildcard.
Today we are highlighting the Houston Rockets.
Guard: James Harden. The Beard arrived in Space City just before the 2012-13 season, and the marriage has been nothing short of astronomical. The Arizona State product has led the Rockets to two Western Conference finals appearances while being an All-Star in each of the seven seasons. Harden is arguably the most beloved Rocket after Hakeem Olajuwon and has continued to electrify the city of Houston with step-backs, euro-steps, and scoring…lots and lots of scoring.
Forward: Trevor Ariza. Honestly, this position did not have a long list of suitors; Chandler Parsons was the only other serious candidate that was considered. In this decade, Ariza spent only four seasons in Houston beginning in 2014, but the wing’s presence and impact were felt early on. Known for his three-and-D abilities, he proved to be a solid scoring option alongside Harden. Ariza’s “defend the best opposing player” mentality was a good reason why Houston was able to reach the conference finals in two of his four seasons there.
Center: Clint Capela. The Switzerland native spent his first two seasons serving as Dwight Howard’s backup, but when Howard left in free agency in the summer of 2016, Capela’s production skyrocketed. Since then, the 25-year-old has improved with each passing season: the pick-and-roll game with Harden/Chris Paul/Russell Westbrook, rebounding, and becoming a force down low. His name may not carry the weight that Howard’s did, but his impact has arguably been greater.
Role Player: PJ Tucker. Tucker is only in his third season with the Rockets, but he has solidified himself as a fan favorite due to his unmatched hustle and intensity. He wears the Houston uniform proudly, hitting the corner three-pointer and standing up to any opposing player showing signs of disrespect. Tucker’s stats don’t do him justice, as he serves as the team’s “bulldog” lockdown defender.
Wildcard: Chris Paul’s hamstring. Too soon? It will never not be too soon. If Paul doesn’t go down with a hamstring injury at the end of Game 5 of the conference finals against the Warriors, the Rockets could very well have ended the 2017-18 season with an NBA title. Up 3-2 in that series, Houston looked like the team to finally dethrone Golden State, but an injury to Paul left the Rockets without one of their primary playmakers.
Team High: 2017-18 season. As mentioned in the paragraph above, the Rockets fell to the Warriors in seven games in the conference finals. However, it was overall one of the best seasons in the organization’s history as the team finished league-best 65-17 record and claimed the top seed in the conference.
Team Low: 2010-11 season. Overall, this decade has seen a good amount of success; the Rockets haven’t had a losing record since the 2005-06 season. The 2010-11 campaign saw the end of Yao Ming’s career due to injuries. Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry, and Luis Scola carried the team to a 43-39 record, but it wasn’t good enough for a playoff spot as the team finished last in the Southwest Division.
Upcoming Decade Prediction: The Rockets will start the decade with Harden and Westbrook in their respective primes. However, playing style and defense stand in the way of the claiming a title. The first half of the decade will feature regular season success, but playoff results are TBD. My guess? Two Western Conference finals appearances in the decade.