Are the Houston Rockets falling behind their competition?

Will the Houston Rockets be able to keep up with Victor Wembanyama and the Spurs?
Will the Houston Rockets be able to keep up with Victor Wembanyama and the Spurs? / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages

There's a temptation to view the NBA as an arms race.

You see other teams making moves. You'd like your team to make a move. Otherwise, they're going to fall behind.

Yet, every team isn't running in the same race. Some teams are sprinting, while others are running a marathon.

What pace should the Houston Rockets be keeping?

Should Houston Rockets make a major move?

It's been a good summer for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

First, they flipped Josh Giddey for Alex Caruso. Giddey is a divisive player. You may think he's got star upside, and you may think his limitations are likely to get the best of him.

Table that. Either way, it's nearly certain that Caruso will impact winning for the Thunder more than Giddey did last season. Meanwhile, he's not even the only major acquisition the Thunder made this summer.

Isaiah Hartenstein ought to bolster their title odds. He's one of the most underrated big men in the NBA. Should the Rockets be jealous of how strong the Rockets look?

Houston Rockets are on a different timeline

Not really.

Yes, the Thunder are young. They'll be a problem for the Rockets moving forward. They aren't a major concern for Houston in 2024-25. The Thunder will be chasing an NBA title, while the Rockets will be racing for the eighth seed.

If anything, the Rockets' direct competition is getting weaker. Paul George just left the Los Angeles Clippers. The Golden State Warriors appear destined to lose Klay Thompson. Rumors indicate that the Jazz may move Lauri Markkanen.

If they send him to the Spurs, that could be a long-term problem. The Rockets' divisional rivals are a team the Rockets are truly racing with. So, it's a bit concerning from the Rockets' point of view that the Spurs just signed Chris Paul. He's likely to have a positive impact on Victor Wembanyama's development.

Granted, Houston is ahead of San Antonio in their rebuild, but in a few years, they'll ideally be on their path to the NBA Finals. It would be a massive disappointment if the Spurs outperformed the Rockets in 2024-25, but it doesn't matter - by 2027-28, they'll both be hoping to be in the mix for the NBA title.

The broader point is this: talent is always on the move in this National Basketball Association. Some of it may be heading to Houston by the time they're ready to contend. The Rockets are smart to hang onto their assets for now and make marginal upgrades.

This team is priming to run in a very difficult marathon.