Will the Houston Rockets ever win a championship with James Harden?

Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images) /

What does a title squad look like?

The Rockets can build a title-worthy squad with Harden at its center, but it won’t be easy. Looking back at the past 20 NBA champions, the Rockets have their work cut out to build a championship roster.

The Average NBA Champion (2000-2019)

Wins      PPG Rank      OPPG Rank     Off Rtg Rank     Def Rtg Rank    SRS

60.05           8                       8.3                     5.85                      5.5                6.71

The Rockets need to build a 60-win team that ranks in the top six in both defensive and offensive rating. Championship teams have also been top 10 in points per game and points allowed per game.

The Rockets have been able to hit all of these championship benchmarks once during Harden’s time in Houston. The 2017-18 Rockets were a championship team and likely would have won the title if not for 27 consecutive missed three-pointers.

The core of that Rockets team featured Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, and Trevor Ariza. That season, the Rockets won an NBA-best 65 games and were first in offensive rating and sixth in defensive rating.

What appeared to be a burgeoning superpower would disappear in a blink. Over the past two seasons, the Rockets have jettisoned or lost everyone from that core except Gordon and Harden, which raises the next component of a championship team– the supporting cast.

Next: Championship supporting casts