Houston Rockets laid the foundation for Finals-bound Mavericks

Did the Houston Rockets influence the Mavericks?
Did the Houston Rockets influence the Mavericks? / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

The NBA is a copycat league. This is a copycat article.

Not really. Still, we have discussed imitation as flattery in the NBA before. When the Minnesota Timberwolves advanced to the NBA Western Conference Finals, several Houston Rockets fans wanted their team to follow Minnesota's blueprint. Now, the Wolves have been eliminated by the Mavericks.

Are the Mavericks following an old Rockets' model?

Houston Rockets laid foundation for Mavericks

It's hard to deny the similarities.

The comparisons start with Luka Doncic and James Harden. They're both portly offensive engines. Harden and Doncic don't overwhelm opponents with traditional athleticism. Instead, they both take advantage of deceleration and more generally, warp the geometry of the court with their combined ability to score in isolation and make plays for teammates.

Every star needs a co-star. Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving aren't perfectly comparable. Paul is more of a floor general and a better defender. Meanwhile, Irving is an even more dynamic shot creator.

Still, the point holds. Both the Rockets and the Mavericks found another guard to compliment their engine. Otherwise, both teams flanked their offensive-minded backcourts with 3-and-D wings and lob-catching big men who wouldn't complain if they didn't dribble another basketball in their NBA careers.

Did the Mavericks steal the Rockets' flow?

Mavericks enjoying fruits of Houston Rockets' labor

Sure. Who cares?

When the Rockets were doing this, it looked like the future of basketball. Everyone wanted to build a heliocentric system around an offensive engine in a simple, pick-and-spread system.

Since then, the model has arguably gone out of fashion. There's a reason for that - Hardens and Doncics aren't exactly easy to find. Moreover, if there's a lesson to learn from this era of parity, it's that an NBA contender can be built in several different ways.

If the Mavericks manage to vanquish the Celtics in these NBA Finals, look for teams to copy them:

Or, more specifically, copy the Rockets.