As the NBA playoffs rage on, Houston Rockets fans have seen their fair share of former Rockets helping teams in their quest for a championship. With P.J. Tucker set to face off against Clint Capela in the Eastern Conference Finals and Chris Paul battling Patrick Beverley in the Western Conference Finals, a former Rocket is guaranteed to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy this season.
With the amount of player movement in the modern NBA, this isn’t a highly unusual situation but it does highlight how many quality players used to call Houston home. In fact, if a team of former Rockets was made from every playoff team it would be the favorites to win the NBA championship.
NBA Playoffs: The Houston Rockets could have had a superteam
A starting lineup featuring Chris Paul (Suns) and James Harden (Nets) at the guard positions, P.J. Tucker (Bucks) and Robert Covington (Trail Blazers) on the wings, and Clint Capela (Hawks) at center would easily be the best starting lineup in these playoffs. Paul and, when healthy, Harden have been sublime this postseason, and Tucker, Covington, and Capela have been tough as nails on defense.
The combination of offensive firepower from the backcourt and defense from the wings would have made the Rockets a match-up nightmare for any opponent. The fact that the Rockets had four of these guys together (Paul, Harden, Capela, Tucker) on the same team and came home empty-handed is a sobering reminder that nothing is a given in the playoffs.
However, after the starting lineup, the playoff-former-Rockets-superteam’s bench, on its own, would make a strong push to make the playoffs. Waiting on the pine would be Russell Westbrook (Wizards), Jeff Green (Nets), Lou Williams (Hawks), Montrezl Harrell (Lakers), Goran Dragic (Heat), Patrick Beverly (Clippers), Marcus Morris (Clippers), Trevor Ariza (Heat) and Dwight Howard (Sixers).
This team features six players who rank in the top-50 of playoffs Box Plus/Minus and would bring the perfect mix of complementary skills to the table. While this fantasy team would be the title favorites, it needs to be remembered that it wouldn’t be allowed to exist due to salary cap constrictions.
NBA Playoffs: Former Houston Rockets may decide the championship
Injuries to star players have played a pivotal role in who has advanced in the playoffs and dominated media conversations but it might be more apt to say that former Rockets have been the deciding factors in the 2021 playoffs. P.J. Tucker’s defense on Kevin Durant, James Harden’s hamstring injury, Chris Paul’s brilliance with the Suns, and Clint Capela’s work on Joel Embiid have all been crucial to who has lasted to the final four teams.
The Houston Rockets might have finished the season with the worst record in the league, but their fingerprints are all over these playoffs. Even though you haven’t been able to root for the Rockets throughout these playoffs, you’ve had plenty of chances to root for a Rocket, which should give you hope that a turnaround is right around the corner.