NBA season preview: Houston Rockets


STAYING: Trevor Ariza, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer, Clint Capela, Sam Dekker, James Harden, Montrezl Harrell and KJ McDaniels.

ADDED: Ryan Anderson (New Orleans), Bobby Brown (Besiktas), Tyler Ennis (Milwaukee), Eric Gordon (New Orleans), PJ Hairston (Memphis), Nenê (Washington), Chinanu Onuaku (Louisville), Gary Payton II (Oregon State), Pablo Prigioni (LA Clippers), Isaiah Taylor (Texas) and Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga).

GONE: Michael Beasley (Milwaukee), Andrew Goudelock (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Dwight Howard (Atlanta), Terrence Jones (New Orleans), Donatas Motiejunas, Josh Smith, Jason Terry (Milwaukee) and  Marcus Thornton (Washington).

STRENGTHS: There’s only a few franchise-changing players and the Rockets have one of them in James Harden … In terms of offensive production, it doesn’t get much better than The Beard … Clear candidate to lead the league in scoring … Offensive repertoire is incredible … Puts so much pressure on opponent’s defenses driving to the basket … Plenty of three-point shooters … Harden, Patrick Beverley, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson will bomb away … Scoring and spacing have typically been strenghts of Mike D’Antoni‘s teams …  Super intriguing center in Clint Capela, who looks more than ready to play a bigger role … Tremendous potential as a defender … As far as chemistry and effort, the only way is up.

WEAKNESSES: Point guard play … Rockets will experiment with Harden at the position … We’ll see how that works … They have a more than decent full-time point guard in Beverley,  but he’s nowhere near star level – which is what most contenders have at PG spot … They are going to have to ride Harden a lot, which can take a toll on his body … A squad that struggled on the defensive end hired D’Antoni as head coach … That should be interesting … Depth is nothing to call home about … They are not going to overwhelm opponents with athleticism … A lot of questions about Gordon‘s durability … D’Antoni didn’t get along all that well with some of the superstars he coached recently… What’s going tp happen with Harden?

PREDICTION: 2nd in the Southwest Division, 6th in the Western Conference.



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