They may be on their way to a new era, but are the Houston Rockets a better team than last season?
A four-time NBA All-Star, 2012 Sixth Man of the year, and is no question one of the top premier talents in the league. Yet, Kevin Durant feels there is a lack of appreciation for James Harden. Durant’s comments have become a hot topic in the sports world over the past 48 hours.
Sure, the Houston Rockets star does not receive the same level of appreciation as LeBron James or Stephen Curry, but Dave Leonardis of Today’s Fastbreak says The Beard is more appreciated than Durant thinks.
"Even on his worst day, James Harden is one of the 10 best players in the NBA. There isn’t anyone in the league who attacks the basket and draws fouls as easily as The Beard. Since arriving in Houston four years ago, he’s emerged as one of the game’s best pure scorers, an endorsement magnet, a perennial MVP contender and the face of the Rockets franchise. However, according to former teammate Kevin Durant, Harden is now…..unappreciated? Harden’s peers certainly appreciate what he brings to the table. After Stephen Curry was voted MVP by the media last season, the players gave Harden the first-ever NBPA Most Valuable Player award just a couple months later."
Since coming to Houston four years ago, this was the first time the Rockets underachieved in the James Harden era. This was the first time where off-court rumors and dysfunctional gameplay overshadowed his great individual play.
The Rockets were supposed to challenge the Golden State Warriors for the West but instead had to settle for a 41-41 first round exit. So it was not a surprise when NBA analysts decided to leave Harden off each All-NBA teams.
Durant may call himself taking up for an old friend, but apparently, he does not appreciate Harden’s game like he claims. If he did, perhaps he would have given the Rockets some sort of consideration before signing with the Warriors this past July.
Speaking of free agency, it is no secret that the Rockets had one of the most mediocre offseasons in the league. After Durant, Al Horford, and Dwight Howard took their talents elsewhere, Houston had to settle for plan B.
With the lack of star power now in Houston, Shlomo Sprung of The Comeback says the Rockets are a different team than last season. Unfortunately, their new waves of players have not made them a better team.
"The biggest difference in this Rockets team will be Dwight Howard’s free agent departure to Atlanta. Last season, Howard posted his lowest scoring average and PER (Player Efficiency Rating) since his rookie year in just over 32 minutes per game. There were questions about how well Howard and Harden got along in the locker room, and there are no doubts that this is now Harden’s team based on the offseason moves made by general manager Daryl Morey and his staff, most notably Harden’s new four-year, $118 million mega-max contract extension."
The Rockets will not finish in the top half of the Western Conference, and it’s sad to see every analyst predicting Houston will finish 8th or worst next season. Even though Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, and Nene are not all-stars, there is too much talent for the Rockets to have another heart breaking season.
"and had been two of the biggest names on the New Orleans Pelicans in the past few seasons. Next year, they’ll be wearing a division rival’s jersey. Both Anderson and Gordon signed with the Houston Rockets this offseason. With the teams set to square off four times next season, it could be the beginning of a lasting rivalry. One of the big questions will be how and play against two of their former allies for multiple seasons. It’s easier for Jrue, who will not be guarding Gordon very much, if not at all. For Davis, however, it will be a matchup against his friend for a majority of the games. Ryan Anderson Eric Gordon Jrue Holiday Anthony Davis"
Not sure if Gordon and Anderson’s signing will create a rivalry, but it’s going to be a great game when the Rockets face off against the Pelicans for the first time next season!
Space City Scoop is always looking to add new talent to our writing team. Currently, we’re looking for individuals with a specialized focus. The first area of focus is perfect for someone who is constantly surfing the web for breaking news on injuries, trades, insider info etc. This individual would select the top news items and provide timely quick hits to keep SCS readers in the loop.
The other area of focus is someone who possesses a strong social media background who likes to interact with Clutch City Fans. You’ll promote SCS team content on facebook and twitter while also making sure to promote the best content coming from H-Town fans. If you have this capability and are interested then check out this link and fill out an application.