Can the Rockets Stop the Warriors Next Season?
By Michael Knight
What can the Rockets do to stop the Warriors next year?
At this point in time, it is all but certain that the Warriors are going to win the 2017 NBA Finals, their second title in three years. The team is too strong and even LeBron James said in the postgame press conference that “this is the most firepower I’ve played against in my career.” Not only does this team have the most firepower LeBron has ever seen, but they are statistically the best offense of all time. The 115.6 offensive rating of the Warriors puts them first over any team in NBA and ABA history. They also back up the offense with a very solid defense manned by Draymond Green. So how do the Rockets stop them next season?
Continue with the Offense
While the Warriors had a historic offense this year, the Rockets were not really too far behind. Houston finished with a 114.7 offensive rating, tenth best of all time. They have plenty of weapons to compete offensively with the Warriors. The Rockets showed this early on in the season on December 1 when they went into Oracle Arena and beat Golden State in overtime. While the rest of the matchups throughout the year were rough, this one game shows that they have the ability to win. With Mike D’Antoni and James Harden at the helm for years to come, we should not see too much change to the dynamic offense.
Defensive Improvements Through Free Agency and Trades
Last offseason, Daryl Morey went all in on acquiring offensive talent to improve the team. While that certainly worked towards the Rockets game plan, the focus should be on making defensive improvements this summer who can also fit into the three-point barrage offense. Morey will certainly be active all offseason trying to help the team get better in any way possible.
With Trevor Ariza‘s three-point percentage dropping off last year (along with his defense at times), it may be right to look for a three-and-D small forward. Some options in free agency include Otto Porter, who shot 43% from deep last year, and PJ Tucker, who shot 40% from deep last year. Both players play above average defense and can help the Rockets at least attempt to stop the Warriors. As good of a shooter that Ryan Anderson is, he still is a defensive liability on the court and carries a large contract with him. Improvements defensively at the power forward position might be something Daryl Morey looks into in free agency and trades as well.
Calvin Watkins, the former ESPN Houston writer, made some comments on potential Rockets that may be traded this offseason in order to compete with Golden State.
Off-season trade possibilities for the Rockets. https://t.co/Zy2tmq1l8y
— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) June 8, 2017
All in all, the Rockets are lucky to have one of the most aggressive GMs in the league. Daryl Morey will do what he can to build a team that can take down the Warriors.
*All stats via Basketball-Reference*