It’s been a busy couple of years for the Rockets in the building of this year’s roster. In fact, the turnover has been so large that only James Harden, Clint Capela, PJ Tucker, Eric Gordon, and Gerald Green remain from the 2017-18 season. In those two years, they’ve moved on from All-Stars Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony. Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey has never shied away from recruiting superstars and this summer was certainly no different.
The headline news for the Rockets this year is the acquisition of perennial All-Star and 2017 league MVP, Russell Westbrook. Seven years on from Harden’s departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder, we see the band back together in Houston. A lot will be expected of the duo, the scrutiny around the league and from fans around the world will be intense.
Both players have evolved immensely since their previous time together at OKC, having each gone on to take the top individual gong – the league’s MVP award. What we have seen is an encouragement that both players want this to work. What’s more, their friendship is genuine and extends beyond their time in Oklahoma, all the way to South Central Los Angeles prior to their journeys in the NBA.
Their play for their respective franchises has been so dominant over the last five seasons that they are the only two players to score over 10,000 points. That’s an incredible feat, especially when you factor the dramatic changes and problems their relevant sides have had during that period.
The problem now is that the game is played with just one basketball and we have possibly the two most ball dominant guards. Something is going to have to give for this partnership to work and it will take a strong friendship to be successful.
For the offensive brilliance that Westbook and Harden offer, it’s nothing without the defensive grit provided by the supporting cast. PJ Tucker is a tireless player who plays every game like it’s his last and most importantly, understands the necessary individual sacrifices needed for the benefit of the team.
Clint Capela, one of the most improved centers in the league over the last 12 months, has proven himself more than reliable, playing more than 65 games a season over the last four years. His year-on-year progression in both points and rebounds has led to him averaging a double-double for the past two seasons. Like Tucker, Capela isn’t a player seeking highlight reels, instead, he continues to be the solid, reliable backbone to the side.
Eric Gordon, fresh from a new deal to keep him from free agency, has been a metronome of consistency since joining Houston, proven to be an alternate scorer to Harden and a rocksteady 36 percent three-point threat.
Austin Rivers, Danuel House and Gerald Green offer depth and a solid 8+ points a game – ideal fits for a side who led the NBA in three-point attempts last year, averaging 45.4 attempts per game.