Houston Rockets 2018-2019 Season Preview: Can The Rockets Keep It Together?
by 13 October 2018, 12:36 PM
The Rockets had a very disappointing end to last season, can they turn it around this season?
If the Houston Rockets just had a tad more luck, they could have stopped one of the biggest dynasties in NBA history — the Golden State Warriors — and potentially could have been the ones holding up the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy this past June. The Rockets were up 3-2 in the conference finals to the Warriors, in a perfect position to make the NBA finals. Unfortunately, Chris Paul went down with an injury and would not be able to play in the next two games (and the Rockets also missed 27 straight three-pointers in Game 7) which gave the Warriors the opening they needed to bulldoze the Rockets in the next two games.
Fast forward to this season and it truly looks like the Rockets missed their one opportunity. The top of the West has become a lot more elite with DeMarcus Cousins joining the Warriors and LeBron James joining the Lakers, and the Rockets didn’t seem to get any better. Losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute hurts as they were instrumental in their ability to defend multiple positions, a necessity against fast versatile lineups such as the Warriors’ “Hamptons 5” lineup. In their stead, the Rockets added Vincent Edwards, Brandon Knight, James Ennis. Marquese Chriss, and Michael Carter-Williams.
Image Credit: Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle
Perhaps the biggest move in the Rockets offseason was the signing of 10-time all-star Carmelo Anthony. This move is puzzling to many because Melo doesn’t seem to fill the gaping hole that the departure of Ariza left. Carmelo also showed last season that he was no longer suited to play in a fast-paced offense, and he is going from the second-fastest pace in the league to the fastest. Melo had a career-low 50.3 True Shooting Percentage last season. Part of his problem was his reliance on the mid-range jumper averaging 3.4 shots from 16-24ft away from the hoop this past season, tied for sixth most in the league. Despite taking so many mid-range jumpers, he shot a brutal 38.1% on them. To put that in perspective, Houston as a team only shot 3.7 mid-range shots per game last season. Melo is still a talented scorer, so if he can buy into the Rocket’s system, there is potential for a bounce-back year.
Expectations and Predictions
The Rockets are still an elite team. They seem to have gotten ever so slightly worse from last season, but the biggest problem is that the other teams around them got better. The Warriors added yet another all-star, the Celtics two stars are back and healthy, the Lakers got LeBron, and the Raptors traded for Kawhi Leonard. Houston will surely have a tougher path to make a deep playoff run this season, but they can only hope everything falls into place. If Chris Paul stays healthy, James Harden continues what he has been doing, Carmelo stops taking so many mid-range shots, and some of the other new editions can step up, then the Rockets will be a legitimate contender once again.
Expect the Rockets to finish in the 2-3 seed in the West, and assuming they stay healthy, to make another run at the conference finals. Unfortunately, the Warriors are way too talented for ANY team to beat them right now, so fans of all other teams are going to have to be rooting for second place.
Edited by Jeremy Losak.
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