The 2017 Houston Rockets had many similarities to the 1995 championship team, but how would they do in a head-to-head matchup?
The Houston Rockets have had several amazing teams throughout the years, some of which have taken home the ultimate prize. Other teams have had just as much talent as those championship teams but ultimately ran into a buzzsaw or had some misfortune that led to them not quite reaching their fullest potential.
Breaking it down position-by-position, I’ll be looking at the 1995 NBA Championship roster in comparison to the regular season record-setting 2017 Houston Rockets. Of course, when looking at it from a pure accomplishment standpoint, there is no comparison.
However, when you break down the actual matchups, the teams are a lot closer than you would think. The 2017 Rockets may not have won it all but the team is still one of the best in franchise history.
One note: For this discussion, I’ll be comparing the two teams as they were in the respective years, not their entire careers. Let’s jump right into it with the point guard position.
2017 – Chris Paul
When Chris Paul was originally traded to the Rockets, some critics believed that the pairing of him and James Harden would never work, with the reasoning being that two ball-dominant guards could never work together. Sounds familiar, right?
Of course, we all know how the regular season turned out. 65 regular-season wins, the best record in the NBA and an MVP for Harden. Paul would go on to average 18.6 points 7.9 assists and 5.4 rebounds all while shooting 46 percent from the field.
When it came to Game 5 in the playoffs against the Utah Jazz, Paul almost single-handedly clinched the series for Houston, finishing with 41 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in the best game of his playoff career.
In the Western Conference Finals, CP3 helped lead the Rockets to a 3-2 series edge over Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors before the infamous hamstring injury that sidelined him for Games 6 and 7.
Chris Paul put together one of the best point guard seasons in Houston Rockets history in 2017.
1995 – Kenny Smith
Kenny Smith was a key part of the greatest run in the franchise’s history and was the starting point guard in 1994 and 1995 when the Rockets won back-to-back championships. As a Rocket, the Jet averaged 12.6 points and 5.3 assists per game in six seasons.
During his time with the team, Smith would share point guard duties with Sam Cassell, as many times Cassell would close out games. Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals was the crowning achievement for the Jet, as he nailed seven 3-pointers to lead the Rockets to victory, which was a Finals record at the time.
Kenny Smith was indeed a vital part of both championship teams, but Paul was the second-best player on the 2017 team. Smith was also often benched in favor of Cassell frequently in crunch-time situations.