After the Russell Westbrook/Chris Paul trade happened, the Houston Rockets immediately put the pressure on themselves to finally bring home that championship they’ve been so close to in recent years. Have they put more pressure on themselves than the LA Clippers and the LA Lakers? I think so.
The thing with Houston this offseason was, they were still looking like one of the strongest teams in the NBA, even after making essentially no moves in free agency or trades. They seemed to be happy with their roster and felt that it was the best chance for them to return to the playoffs and hopefully make it further next year with Golden State down and out. Then they made the Russell Westbrook trade. Now the entire NBA is buzzing about the Westbrook/Harden reunion and they have put the biggest target on their back. Will they be the favorite to win the NBA championship when the season starts. Who knows, but they should be.
Sure, there are some question marks regarding the style of play between the two and everyone will be wondering if they will be able to work together the way that they once did, which was a long time ago by the way. Harden was a much different player the last time these two were wearing the same jersey and nobody imagined that he would become the mega star that he is, while playing as the 6th man for the OKC Thunder.
LeBron James/Anthony Davis and Paul George/Kawhi Leonard are undeniably still a stronger dynamic duo than Westbrook/Harden but the Rockets have the better roster than either one and it should be a no brainer that they come into the season as the favorites. But, will they live up to it? Mike D’Antoni has gotten to coach some of the greatest names to ever play basketball and has still never brought in a championship. He was the favorite to knock off Golden State after losing to them with an injured Chris Paul, where most people thought it would have went the other way if Paul didn’t get hurt. He lost. He had the best chance to knock off Golden State this past playoff series with KD and Klay hurt, he lost.
Will he be able to get it done with this roster and with his new dynamic duo? I don’t think so. I don’t think he is at the point in his coaching career to figure out how to have these two ball dominant guards bring him the elusive trophy and I think the Rockets fans are setting themselves up for disappointment with how excited they have become over this seemingly lateral move at point guard.