The Houston Rockets have finally moved on from James Harden but his absence will create opportunities for others. These are the five Rockets who can capitalize and earn themselves some accolades.
The Houston Rockets have officially entered the post-James Harden era after, arguably, the franchise’s second-best player ever was traded to the Brooklyn Nets. The Rockets executed a four-team that included the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers as well as the Nets.
Much of Houston’s return centered around draft compensation but they surprised the NBA community when they sent Caris LeVert from the Nets to the Pacers for two-way All-Star guard, Victor Oladipo. The team looks headed in the direction of a rebuild, but the question of whether it will be a slow or accelerated one remains to be seen.
After years of playoff runs where the franchise mortgaged its future, the Russell Westbrook trade in the summer of 2019 is the most recent example, the Rockets managed to make up those losses and more by sending Harden to the Nets. Their return will include three unprotected first-round picks from Brooklyn in 2022, 2024, and 2026 and unprotected pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025, and 2027.
As part of the deal, the Rockets will also acquire a 2022 unprotected first-round pick from Cleveland via Milwaukee. This unprecedented haul of draft picks is in line with Harden’s unrivaled offensive ability.
Nevertheless, the Rockets’ current roster will have a chance to finally implement Stephen Silas’ offensive system without the drama that surrounded the team after Harden vocalized his desire to be dealt to a contender prior to the season’s start. In Harden’s absence, shots, passes, and opportunities will be spread around the roster and will give ample chances to the remaining Rockets to make a name for themselves.
The James Harden era might be over but a new one is beginning and the players that capitalize could see their reputation in the city of Houston and around the country grow. Here are five Rockets that have what it takes to earn an NBA award this season.
Next: Player No. 5