STAYING: Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza, Bobby Brown, Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, James Harden, Nenê, Chinanu Onuaku, Isaiah Taylor and Troy Williams.
ADDED: Tarik Black (LA Lakers), Demetrius Jackson (Boston), Shawn Long (Philadelphia), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (LA Clippers), Cameron Oliver (Nevada), Chris Paul (LA Clippers), Tim Quarterman (Portland), PJ Tucker (Toronto) and Zhou Qi (Xinjiang Flying Tigers).
GONE: Patrick Beverley (LA Clippers), Sam Dekker (LA Clippers), Montrezl Harrell (LA Clippers), Louis Williams (LA Clippers) and Kyle Wiltjer (Toronto).
STRENGTHS: On paper, it’s one of the best backcourts we’ve seen in the league … A superstar in his prime years plus an NBA legend with gas in the tank should make for a formidable duo … The shot-making and playmaking abilities James Harden and Chris Paul bring to the table are really something else … Basketball IQ is through the roof … Paul’s presence takes pressure off The Beard, who looked a bit worn down in the playoffs last year … They have a plethora of shooters around those two, including three-point champion and Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon … With this roster and a coach like Mike D’Antoni, you know spacing is not going to be an issue … Potent fast-break squad … If they lead the NBA in scoring, no one would be surprised … The addition of PJ Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute upgrades perimeter defense … Clint Capela is a great shot-blocker and probably a better scorer going forward with all those lobs coming his way now that CP3 is his teammate … Overall, depth is quite good.
WEAKNESSES: Defense has to go from somewhat decent to above-average for them to have a realistic chance vs. Golden State … Protecting the rim is quite a problem for them … Opponents shot 68.9 percent within three feet of the basket against Houston last season … No team did worse there … They also led the NBA in conceded layups … Houston could use another backup point guard … Questions about Paul’s durability … He has a lot of mileage already and missed 21 games last season.
PREDICTION: 1st in the Southwest Division, 2nd in the Western Conference.