Just how good are the Rockets? That seems like a silly question to ask about a team that won 50 games a year ago before losing to a good Portland squad in six games in the playoffs, but it’s still one that needs to be asked.
James Harden and Dwight Howard are superstars and have been on highly successful teams. Both players are among the 15 best in the NBA, but they’ve never won a championship. Both have been to the Finals, so they know how to get close, but it’s fair to wonder if they will ever get over that final hurdle.
Whether or not the two Rocket superstars can turn the corner will go a long way in determining the ultimate fate of this team. Howard has been a dominant force in the league, at one point holding the Defensive Player of the Year award in an iron grip from 2009-2011, a stretch that also saw him lead the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals.
Mar 5, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) and Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Houston Rockets defeated the Orlando Magic 101-89. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
In more recent years, however, Dwight has been hampered by injuries, hampered being a relative term for a guy that has been a second- and third-team All-NBA player the past two seasons. If Howard can finally get near a hundred percent and bring the type of dominance he displayed on both ends of the floor in Orlando to this Rockets squad, an already good team could become truly great.
Harden has never been an elite defender, but the man is among the best scorers in the league. In his first two years in Houston he has averaged over 25 PPG, and if he can make a jump to scoring title contention it could go a long way toward shaping the fate of this team.(The Rockets currently have 12/1 odds to win a title).
It’s obvious that those two players are the key to the season, but that doesn’t make it any less true. With Kevin Durant hurt to start the year, the Spurs core a year older, and the Cavaliers in their first year playing together, this may be the last best chance for these superstars and their team to finally reach the promised land.
The post was a guest post written by Kelly Mason, a raised Texan with a huge appetite for sports. Her favorite teams include the Longhorns, Rockets, and Astros (no one said it would be easy). You can read more of her work here.