ESPN’s Jay Williams suddenly reverses course on the Rockets

Former basketball player Jay Williams (Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images)
Former basketball player Jay Williams (Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images) /

On Thursday, ESPN’s Jay Williams continued the national media’s latest trend of praising the Houston Rockets.

The national media’s praise parade towards the Houston Rockets has been quite astonishing, as it’s not something Rockets fans have grown accustomed to seeing. We’ve seen numerous prominent national media personalities express confidence in the possibility of the Rockets’ chances of winning a title, which isn’t what we’d expect to hear based on what these same people said during the 2019-20 season.

But here we are, which is at a place where it’s become a consensus belief among media types that the Rockets are a sleeper team to go far in the Western Conference playoff race. On Thursday, ESPN’s Jay Williams joined the club, as he also expressed his confidence in the Rockets during the network’s morning show Get Up.

“If there are people that you’re counting on to stay focused and to stay in shape, would that not be Russell Westbrook? One thousand percent.

And you’re hearing reports that James Harden has lost 20 pounds. Down the stretch over the last couple of years, you’ve seen James Harden get tired. You’ve seen him get fatigued. Him losing 20 pounds will help down the stretch for a guy that’s one of the biggest innovators in basketball.

You combine that with the liking and thinking of Daryl Morey and how he has composed this team, I like this strategy. I like this style and I like this fast-paced play that the Houston Rockets can have. They’re a team that can find themselves in a situation to win the whole da- thing.”

Jay Williams reverses course, now a believer in the Rockets

Related Story. Why Jay Williams was wrong about Harden/Russ friction

Williams said that he disagrees with those who worry about James Harden’s weight loss and cited the neutral site in the Orlando bubble as another benefit for the Rockets. In addition, Williams mentioned the Los Angeles Lakers being without Avery Bradley and cited the LA Clippers’ injury history being a potential concern in a condensed schedule as additional boosts for the Houston Rockets.

Although the former Duke product makes several good points here, this is quite the reversal of opinions from Williams, as he was rather critical of the Rockets throughout the season, to put it politely. If you recall, Williams had a lot to say about the Rockets after their high-scoring 159-158 victory over the Washington Wizards earlier in the year.

Everyone talking about James Harden & his 59 pts this am.. why? My takeaway was .. how the hell did a team that could contend for a world championship give up 158 pts to the @WashWizards ? I mean.. the wizards.

— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) October 31, 2019

But perhaps the most notable and memorable bit of analysis Williams had towards the Rockets this season was his claim of “trust issues” that he believed existed between James Harden and Russell Westbrook. In case you don’t remember these specific comments, here’s an opportunity to re-familiarize yourself.

.@RealJayWilliams is sensing some serious trust issues between James Harden and Russell Westbrook. And it's showing on the court.

— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) December 12, 2019

But Williams is allowed to change his mind, especially now that it’s become the trending thing to praise the Rockets. Williams is now the latest of the ESPN family to dole out praise for the Rockets upon their return.

We’ve heard from Jeff Van Gundy (who constantly supports the Rockets), Mike Greenberg, Jalen Rose, and Paul Pierce from the network who have all made similar comments at some point or another. At ESPN’s rival station, FS1, we’ve even heard Colin Cowherd and Jason McIntyre sing the Rockets’ praises, which almost seems too good to be true.

Why Harden and Westbrook must deliver now. Next

The only person we need to hear from now at ESPN is Max Kellerman, who is known in Rockets circles for his consistent Harden slander. For that reason, we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting on him to change his tune, as Williams did here.