Houston Rockets: They aren’t great but may be good enough

The Houston Rockets were an in the middle of a small ball experiment when the season was stopped, do they have a real chance to win the NBA title this year?

The Houston Rockets were in the middle of a small ball experiment when the NBA season was stopped. When they return do they have a real chance to win the NBA championship this year? House of Houston’s Andrew Elderbaum says…maybe.

Today let’s assume the NBA will find some way to reconvene and at least have a postseason. Do the Houston Rockets have any chance at all of competing for the title. I get that all playoff teams are technically competing for the championship but there’s a difference between the Bucks and say the Magic’s level of competition. So do the Rockets fall closer to the top tier or the bottom?

The west is an interesting conference, and all the top teams have some glaring issues. The Lakers have destroyed sub .500 teams (30-4) but have been less impressive against teams with a winning record (19-10). Their lack of real depth and reliance on an aging Lebron James and injury-prone Anthony Davis makes them beatable in a series.

The Clippers are hoping Paul George and Pat Beverly stay healthy, always a dicey proposition. They also added two selfish gunners who have killed their teams in the postseason (Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson) and for some reason Joakim Noah. I thought Noah retired three years ago, so there’s that. The Jazz are currently arguing about who gave who the coronavirus, and Mike Connelly may not even be playable in the postseason. Only Wile E. Coyote has fallen off a cliff faster than him.

The Nuggets remind me of those old Hawks teams that won a lot of games with good players but always lost in the playoffs. They even have Paul Milsap for authenticity. Finally, we have OKC, a great story but Chris Paul couldn’t even win with good players in his prime. Is he really going anywhere when he hasn’t been able to play a full playoff series in three years?

That all sounds great for the Rockets, but they have their own issues. There’s the lack of size, the

lack of depth, and James Harden‘s propensity to turn into Nick Anderson come playoff time. Tyson Chandler would have helped a lot eight years ago, but now he’s not going to do much against Davis, Harrell, Gobert or Jokic.

With Gordon, Covington, Harden, Westbrook and P.J. Tucker as a crunch time five there is a nice blend of shooting and spacing, but defensively it’s a bit of a dumpster fire. Covington and Tucker aren’t quite as good as they used to be, and Westbrook and Harden aren’t exactly candidates for DPOY. All it takes is one off night from three-point range and the Rockets are done…as they’ve shown in their last few playoff exits.

The James Harden playoff experience is the weirdest x-factor of all. While he has had some great games he seems to wilt when he’s needed most. If it happened once or twice you could try and shrug it off as a coincidence, but it’s every year.

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In the end, the Rockets are not a great team, but a good one. If things break just right for them with the top team’s health, and if they can avoid nights where nobody can shoot than good may just be good enough. Now if they could find a hypnotist to convince James Harden the games are in March they’ll be all set.