Houston Rockets 2016-17 NBA Season Preview: ‘The James Harden Team’

Houston Rockets 2016-17 NBA Season Preview: ‘The James Harden Team’

The Houston Rockets will be entering the 2016-17 NBA season with James Harden as their ‘only’ main guy. Last season was a disappointment after the dispute between Dwight Howard and ‘The Beard’ affected the team’s performance. Can the Rockets perform better next season?

Houston Rockets Depth Chart/Roster

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Point Guards: Patrick Beverley, Pablo Prigioni, Tyler Ennis

Shooting Guards: James Harden, Eric Gordon, K.J. McDaniels

Small Forwards: Trevor Ariza, Corey Brewer, Sam Dekker

Power Forwards: Ryan Anderson, Montrezl Harrell

Centers: Clint Capela, Nene Hilario, Chinanu Onuaku

Offseason Addition/s: Ryan Anderson (New Orleans Pelicans), Bobby Brown (Besiktas {Turkey}), Eric Gordon (New Orleans Pelicans), Nene Hilario (Washington Wizards), Chinanu Onuaku (37th overall draft pick, Louisville), Gary Payton II (free agency, undrafted) Isaiah Taylor (free agency, undrafted), Kyle Wiltjer (free agency, undrafted), Tyler Ennis (Milwaukee Bucks)

Offseason Loss/es: Andrew Goudelock (waived), Dwight Howard (free agency, Atlanta Hawks), Terrence Jones (free agency, New Orleans Pelicans), Donatas Motiejunas (free agency, unsigned), Josh Smith (free agency, unsigned), Jason Terry (free agency, Milwaukee Bucks), Michael Beasley (Milwaukee Bucks)

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Strengths: With Mike D’Antoni as their new head coach, the Houston Rockets are expected to be a better offensive team next season. At some point, the departure of Dwight Howard is expected to double the productiveness of James Harden on the offensive end.

The acquisition of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon will help the Rockets improve their three-point percentage. Having more floor spacers will give Harden more options on the offensive end. Last season, the Rockets received an offensive rating of 108.3 and there is a possibility that they will surpass it next season.

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Weaknesses: Defense is still a major concern for the Houston Rockets next season. The 2016-17 NBA season will show how the departure of Dwight Howard will affect the Rockets, especially on the defensive end. Though they have Clint Capela and Nene Hilario at 5, there is no doubt that Howard is irreplaceable as a quality rim protector.

In the 2015-16 NBA season, the Rockets ranked 21st with a defensive rating of 108.1. As of now, the team is working on their defense with assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik. Improving their defense will be vital since their offensive prowess will be useless if they cannot stop the opposing teams.

Though Mike D’Antoni is a good coach, his past seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks were a disaster that could affect his coaching, especially in the modern NBA. Lucky for him, the Rockets have superstar playmaker and facilitator like James Harden, who is tasked to carry the team next season.

Predictions: In the projections made by Kevin Pelton of ESPN, the Houston Rockets are predicted to finish in the 5th spot in the Western Conference (RPM calculations project 45.8 wins). If James Harden and the Rockets continue to improve their defense, there is no doubt that this team could battle against the best teams in the Western Conference in the 2016-17 NBA season.

Photo courtesy: Alexandra Walt/Flickr.com