New Year, New Power Rankings: Rockets in the Top Four
By Ben Casey
After going undefeated in the last week of 2016, the Rockets are undeniably elite. Nearly every pundit would agree that it isn’t a fluke anymore.
In a season where the Houston Rockets were expected to hover around .500, they’re on pace to win more than 60 games. Under Mike D’Antoni‘s leadership, the Rockets are a completely different team than the one that suited up last year. James Harden is back to being an MVP candidate and Houston is fun again.
It’s easy for me to be biased, but even national pundits argue that the Rockets are back to title contention. As we started 2017, many outlets released their first power rankings of the new year. In an unsurprising turn of events, nobody has Houston ranked lower than fourth.
All power rankings are just opinions, but perhaps no person’s NBA thoughts carry more weight than that of ESPN’s Marc Stein, who put the Rockets behind only last year’s Finals teams:
NBA.com’s John Schuhmann ranked Houston at 4th, but also named them the Hero Team of the Week:
In what seems like a backhanded compliment, Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated felt the need to note that the Knicks aren’t a good defensive team, as if anybody should be able to put up 52-17-16 on them. Still, he gave the Houston Rockets the respect of ranking them fourth:
Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report ranked the Rockets fourth (a common trend, it seems) and noted that their lighthearted play against the Suns last week was a sign of an elite group:
To wrap things up, Gerald Bourguet of Hoops Habit ranked Houston at (you guessed it) fourth. He noted James Harden’s historic triple-double, but also acknowledged the fact that other players have stepped up as well:
Tonight, the Houston Rockets take on the Washington Wizards and look to extend their current winning streak to five games. More notably, though, is this Thurday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Both Houston and OKC are fighting for playoff spots, and their superstars are in the midst of the MVP race. That matchup should play a large part in next week’s power rankings.
Next: Harden and His Historic Triple-Double
Follow @SpaceCity_Scoop on Twitter for live updates during tonight’s game and for constant All-Star votes for James Harden.