Well, rest assured, the Houston Rockets were one of the, if not biggest surprise of the 2016-17 NBA season. When they hired Mike D’Antoni there were very few of us so-called NBA Gurus who thought that bringing in an all offense with no defense coach to lead James Harden and company was a terrible idea. Some also thought that bringing in Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon were not going to make the team a legitimate contender in Western Conference, but the team had a master plan. That master plan was to obtain as much firepower and 3-point shooting to POSSIBLY hang with the United States Men’s National Basketball Team (Golden State Warriors) if they were to meet in the Western Conference Finals. Through the first 11 games of the season, the Rockets were 6-5 and all our thoughts were proven true, but then that’s when the change came. Coach D’Antoni shifted Eric Gordon to the bench and the team finished the season 51-22 after that with an overall record of 55-27.
In the first round, the Rockets completely dismantled the overwhelmed Oklahoma City Thunder in a mere 5 games. Houston just simply had the all-around better team even when you factor in OKC having Russell Westbrook. Come the Western Semis Game 1 versus the NBA’s version of the New England Patriots, the Rockets just seemed to be faster, younger, and more explosive. We all should have known better than to even think about counting out Gregg Popovich and the Spurs after just one game. The teams then rotated blowouts in Games 2-4 and then when Games 5 and 6 came around is when the series took a turn for the worse for Houston. Game 5 was by far the best of any game in the 2nd round as the teams traded blows back and forth all game. Then, Kawhi Leonard turned his ankle late in the 4th quarter and didn’t even touch the floor during OT and the Spurs still found a way to win. In Game 6, Houston wasn’t even competitive with San Antonio and were blown out 114-75 to be sent on their deep-sea fishing trip. By the way, has James Harden showed up to the Toyota Center yet? Maybe he thought the game was today instead of last night.
For the future, Houston’s team is set to be the exact same as it was this year barring any trades. The only somewhat important free agent they have is Nene and he can be replaced. They will have the cap room to sign a solid veteran at any position to a reasonable deal and I suggest that be a backup point guard or wing. Otherwise, look for this Houston team to be the same 50-55+ win team and just maybe James Harden will finally show up when it counts.
Written By: Nyck Young