The ‘What If’s’ for the Houston Rockets Pursuit of a Title


May 12, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Fans cheer as the Houston Rockets play the Los Angeles Clippers in the second half in game five of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Rockets won 124 to 103. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

At Last!

Rejoice hoop fans, the NBA season has arrived! Say goodbye to the redundant baseball highlights and adios to the lifeless Thursdays you spend on the couch wishing that some way, some how the TNT crew of Shaq, Charles, Kenny and Ernie appear on your television set rambling about all things non basketball related. What separates the joyous season of hoops from the ordinaries goes beyond the actual grueling eighty two game odyssey our beloved athletes go through.

It’s more than being on the edge of your seat, putting your friend’s text, “Hey wanna go out tonight?” on hold because if Houston Rockets James Harden hits the game winning three in triple overtime against the lowly Mavericks, you and your buddy are going to the local bar to have one of those “what happened last night” moments. If not, the agony of defeat will be too much for your nimble soul to bare that not even a drink and good company can lift your spirits.

The emotional stress that comes with being an NBA fan is only a portion of the total enjoyment everything this league has to offer. With the Rockets season opener tonight, the circle of debate and argument among your friends have begun to take place. Who’s taking home the Larry O’Brien trophy? Who’s winning the MVP award? Will your team even make the playoffs? Topics as such are at hand in the premises of your living room causing tempers to flare. The battle ground in which NBA opinions are the deadliest of weapons began to heat up as tip-off inches closer and closer.

No matter the weather, fans are filled with optimism coming into the new season year in and year out. This new ray of hope in the slummiest of situations are brought to light through scenarios that revolve around the ambiguous word, “If”…

Although it is nearly impossible to tell the future, we as fans love to speculate the league into our own rationality. This is what makes being fans fun, convincing your colleagues that hey, “Although our superstar is a liability on defense and we just signed on a back court duo filled with reasonable doubt, I believe that IF Javale McGee becomes a 25 and 10 guy we have a good shot of not only making the playoffs but actually winning the whole thing!”

With that being said, let’s for a second imagine that we are in a world where injuries don’t exist. Now in this world, let’s go through seven plausible “IF” scenarios that’ll keep the Houston Rockets from coming out of Helm’s Deep; The Western Conference.

1. What If… The Clippers Actually Gel?

DeAndre Jordan wants more, Lance Stephenson wants to dance, Josh Smith doesn’t know what he wants and Austin Rivers just wants to see Blake Griffin’s…. nevermind.

The Clippers are a bunch of interesting characters and I’d die to see what Doc Rivers was thinking when he put this roster together. Chris Paul is arguably the best point guard in the league so of course you want the ball in his hands but how long will the guys around him tolerate not having the ball 85 percent of the time? Stephenson is terrible off the ball. Josh Smith is… well Josh Smith. How’s a secondary unit of Jamal Crawford, Stephenson and Rivers going to work if the game is only played with one ball?

A lot of questions surround this team but man if Doc can get this ship sailing, we’re looking at potentially the most lethal offense coming into the season. It’s already hard enough defending Paul, Griffin, Jordan and J.J Redick, now they’ve only added ammunition to the cannon by bringing in capable play makers who have shown through out their careers to be a threat on the floor. Not to mention…

The Truth and Doc? “Reunited and it feeeeeeels so goooooood.”

2. What If… Okay, Theirs No “What If’s” to this, HE’S BACK!

Call him the Slim Reaper, call him K-Smoove, call him The Durantula. It doesn’t matter what you call him, just know that Kevin Durant will be visiting your arena sometime soon to kick ass and take names. After dealing with a broken foot last season, Durant is back with a vengeance to reclaim the Thunder’s top spot in the Western Conference.

Dec 16, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) looks past forward Kevin Durant (35) against the Sacramento Kings during the second quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

What makes this come back much more exciting is the departure of Scott Brooks, no more bogus out of time out plays or “Everyone get out of KD and Westbrook’s way.” sets down the stretch. New head coach Billy Donovan should be able to implement offensive sets that’ll beautifully orchestrate around the league’s most dynamic duo.

3. What If… The Warriors Got Better?

Let’s just clear the air now…. The Warriors are a head above the competition and it doesn’t matter what you think. They’re the fastest, most efficient, most entertaining and most likable team in the NBA (thanks Riley).

Their off season has mainly been highlighted by how the world thinks they got lucky by not having to deal with any major injuries. Now the boys from the bay are angry and just when you thought they couldn’t get any better…..

Clippers coach Doc Rivers says #Warriors are better than last yr because title 'swag is real. It's not fake.'

— Monte Poole (@MontePooleCSN) October 21, 2015

“Warriors… come out to playyyyyy”

4. What If… The Spurs Do Spurs Things?

I’ll be the first to admit, after being eliminated from the first round last year to the Clippers I went on to say that the Spurs dynasty was officially over. Tim Duncan’s going to retire, Manu Ginobili will join him, Tony Parker will go back to being France’s “6 God” and Kawhi Leonard’s luscious braids would be shaved off as a sign of new beginnings.

I’ve never been so wrong in my life.

What do the Spurs do? They bring in Lamarcus Aldridge, David West and Jimmer Fredette. While bringing back their core three and resigned Danny Green. And yes, Kawhi still has his braids.

Unlike the Clippers, theirs no question that this thing will work out. It’s the Spurs, it’s what they do. Greg Popovich has mastered the regular season by understanding the importance of rest and cohesiveness amongst different lineups. Theirs not one coach in the league that’s better at what he does, many can emulate but none will surpass and that is why for as long as basketball exists… the Spurs will always be a problem.

5.What If… Javale McGee actually..

Becomes a 25 and 10 guy while leading the Dallas Mavericks to the playoffs? What if this whole time McGee was trolling us? What if it was all apart of his plan to be on Shaqtin A Fool as many times as possible to trick us into thinking he was no good only to break out and strike fear into opposing team’s by playing like the second coming of Hakeem Olajuwon?

No? Okay yeah it’s late… my bad. Sorry Javale I tried.

6.What If… Anthony Davis Takes The Next Step?

If you don’t know by now, Anthony Davis is the future of the NBA and you know what? It wouldn’t surprise me if twenty years down the road he’ll go down as the greatest to ever play the game. Davis is a 6’10 freak of nature who can do it all. Defend all facets of the floor, take his man off the dribble, feathery touch from fifteen feet out and he’s a great teammate. Did I mention he has a 7’5 wingspan? Lord, help us.

Davis will only improve under new head coach Alvin Gentry. The Pelicans have done a decent job of surrounding Davis with skilled guards who can create for themselves and Davis in the open court. Gentry loves for his teams to get up and down the court which fits the personnel of this roster. He will also look to implement some defensive philosophies from Golden State which will only improve where this group stands defensively.

Yup, that guy.

7.What If… The Rockets Self Destruct?

Ty Lawson gets the starting job which causes Patrick Beverley to be unhappy. James Harden gets frustrated with Lawson for having the ball in his hands too long and vice versa. Dwight Howard wants more back to the basket touches. Kevin McHale never figures it out. Terrence Jones gets traded.

I hate to be pessimistic here but don’t these all seem reasonable?

Oct 7, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) reacts against the Dallas Mavericks in the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

It’s awesome what Houston has.. a loaded roster with depth, talent and young guns. What’s good can also go bad in a heartbeat, it’s been said before but the personalities of Harden and Howard aren’t necessarily the ones you want leading your locker room when backs are against the wall. How will this effect the locker room culture?

The league is filled with ongoing drama, let’s just hope everything I mentioned about the Rockets doesn’t happen.

So that’s it, we’ve reached the day we’ve all been waiting for: the 2015-16 Houston Rockets season opener and now the count down is just hours until tip-off.

Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions prepping you for the season and as always stay with Space City Scoop for all things Houston Rockets.

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