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Houston Rockets Roster: SWOT analysis of James Harden & Co. heading into the 2019-20 season

  • The 2019-20 NBA season will be interesting to watch in the case of the Houston Rockets.
Jason Mills
ANALYST
Preview
Modified 01 Apr 2020, 17:29 IST

Weaknesses  

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Four
Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Four

The Westbrook deal brings a few concerns that could easily hurt the Rockets. For instance, they just traded one ball-dominant guard for another in Chris Paul for Westbrook. The reason Paul was on the trade market is due to rumors and rumblings that he and Harden had a fall out during their second-round series loss to the Warriors in the 2019 NBA Playoffs. Some of that disagreement had to do with who had the ball. Westbrook could help or hurt the team but a lot depends on Harden’s willingness to share the basketball.

Another element not being discussed enough is that in the summer of 2012, after making it to the NBA Finals as a member of the OKC Thunder, Harden wanted more money than OKC was willing to offer on a rookie contract extension. It was decided in October of 2012 to trade Harden to the Rockets.

Since Harden wanted more money from the Thunder back then, and the OKC talent pecking order was KD, Westbrook and then Harden, it can be inferred that Harden felt he was at least the 2nd best player if not the best player on the Thunder team. The Rockets’ general manager, Daryl Morey may have to massage some egos to get this combination of talent to share the basketball and win games. 

In terms of health, the Rockets are not necessarily on steady ground. Eric Gordon has only had two seasons in his 11-year career where he has played 75 or more regular season games. Westbrook, who hasn’t had knee surgery after three in nine months since the 2013 playoffs, had arthroscopic surgery in September 2018 just for a clean up of the joint.

In 2018-19 Harden needed a historic stretch of 32 games scoring 30 or more points to get Houston into the top 4 seeds in the West due to multiple player injuries to Paul, Capela, and Gordon. The Rockets need to stay healthy in 2019-20.

Finally, with the addition of Tyson Chandler as a free agent at age 36, and the core of the Rockets' best players being 30 years or older (only Capela is 25 years old among Houston’s potential starters), their window of opportunity to challenge for an NBA title is small.  

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Published 18 Jul 2019, 14:07 IST
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