Why Kendrick Perkins was wrong about his Rockets hypothetical

Kendrick Perkins (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Kendrick Perkins (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Houston resident and ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins was incredibly wrong in his latest take about the Houston Rockets.

The Houston Rockets‘ 2017-18 season was filled with skeptics, as many doubted James Harden and Chris Paul‘s ability to share the backcourt. The Rockets instantly silenced the critics, as they had a wildly successful season.

James Harden ultimately nabbed the MVP award, and the Rockets won a franchise-record 65 games, which was the best record in the NBA and landed the Rockets the top seed in the Western Conference. The Rockets’ offense was lights-out, as they finished with the best offensive rating in the NBA, while scoring 112.4 points per game, which was second-best in the league.

But the Rockets’ defense was even more of a surprise, as Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni isn’t exactly known for having lockdown defenses. Former Rockets defensive coordinator Jeff Bzdelik employed the switch-heavy defensive scheme, which led the Rockets to the sixth-best defensive rating in the league, in addition to allowing the sixth-fewest points in the NBA.

But the Rockets’ season ultimately ended in heartbreak, as Chris Paul got injured in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, and never returned to the series. The Rockets held a 3-2 lead over the Golden State Warriors after that game but were ultimately eliminated in Game Seven.

Why Perkins is wrong about the Rockets’ 2018 finish

CP3’s injury has proven to become one of the greatest “what-if” moments in franchise history, as it’s understood that the Rockets were well on their way to getting past the Warriors and winning the NBA Finals. But although this should be common knowledge, not everyone agrees.

Would have made it to the Finals but then lost to the Cavs!!!! https://t.co/4LRhm6XwCk

— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) July 21, 2020

Where do we even start here? We should first note that Perkins was rather advantageous of our friends over at Content NBA, which is certainly no knock against them.

Related Story. Perkins reverses course on the Rockets

We should then point out that the Warriors were a much more difficult opponent than the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were the Eastern Conference champions due to the superhuman play of LeBron James. Although LBJ is one of the greatest players in NBA history, the reality is the Rockets had elite wing defenders in P.J. Tucker, Trevor Ariza, and Luc Mbah a Moute, who made life difficult for James.

In fact, the Rockets played the Cavaliers twice that season and won both games by an average of 18 points. In those two games, LeBron posted the below averages:

  • 11 points, 9 assists, 2 turnovers
  • 33 points, 7 assists, 8 turnovers

In case you were wondering, LeBron averaged 22 points, five turnovers, and eight assists, as he struggled against the Rockets’ frequent switches. But aside from that, the Rockets beat the Cavs without even having Chris Paul in their first game, so where is the logic that the Cavs would have beaten the Rockets WITH Chris Paul, as Perkins states?

Another thing to note is Harden;s performances against the Cavs that season. Harden had a triple-double in the first game, as he had a statline of 35 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds, while making 42.9 percent of his triples.

Harden had 16 points in the second game, as he struggled to find his shot, which was evident in him shooting 5-for-16 from the field. In spite of that, the Rockets destroyed the Cavs 120-88, which is further proof of how the LeBron James-led crew didn’t stand a chance against the Houston Rockets.

If the Cavaliers couldn’t beat the Rockets with Harden struggling to find his shot, they wouldn’t have stood a chance in the NBA Finals. At the end of the day, Perkins has alliances to LeBron, as the two were teammates in Cleveland.

Next. Re-capping the Rockets' 2019-20 season

In addition, Perkins played on that specific Cavs team, so he likely wants to believe he’d have another ring if the Houston Rockets advanced to the NBA Finals. But Perk can hope and dream all he wants, but it doesn’t mean his dreams would have turned into realities.