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

Jason Mills
ANALYST
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Timeless

Can James Harden and Russell Westbrook Put Houston in the Championship picture?
Can James Harden and Russell Westbrook Put Houston in the Championship picture?

The 2019-20 NBA season will be interesting to watch in the case of the Houston Rockets. After tinkering around the edges of their roster last summer having come up one win short of the 2018 NBA Finals, the Houston Rockets flattered to deceive in the 2019 NBA Playoffs.

This summer, the Rockets front office, specifically Daryl Morey, has made a major splash in the trade front acquiring Russell Westbrook in exchange for Chris Paul, two draft picks and two pick swaps. It could be the change that puts the Rockets in championship picture or it could cause them to implode and force wholesale changes to their roster.

In any event, here’s a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats the Rockets face for the upcoming season.


Strengths

In trading for the talents of one Russell Westbrook, general manager Daryl Morey added an All-Star point guard to his roster. At 30 years of age and coming fresh off a third triple-double season, Westbrook offers Houston a second guard besides Harden himself, who can handle the ball, get to the basket, and distribute assists. It's an acquisition that could take the distribution responsibilities off Harden and would allow him to catch and shoot possibly coming off screens. Harden alone averaged 5 turnovers per game in 2019 and Westbrook averaged 10.7 apg. 

The Rockets now also have better scoring with Westbrook as compared to Chris Paul at the point guard spot. In 2019, the Rockets were 11th in the NBA in scoring at 113 ppg. Not only does Westbrook score more than Chris Paul, but his knack for getting to the basket could also help Clint Capela - who already shot 64% from the field in 2019 - in getting easy buckets around the rim with lob passes and back door cuts. 

What Daryl Morey did with the Westbrook for Chris Paul trade was smart as he got conditions placed on the 2024 and 2026 first-round picks given away to OKC so that they are top 4 protected.  Should the deal fail miserably for the Rockets, Morey has not given away their future completely. However, they quite possibly have ensured they will contend for the NBA title for a few more years.

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