When you look at the offseason for Houston, they lost some wing players, but brought in Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Knight, James Ennis, Carmelo Anthony, and Marquese Chriss. None of these are tremendous defenders, so it looks like a more offensive attack for Houston, even though they did not need it. Adding a future hall of famer in Carmelo Anthony is not a lock to just instantly be better, especially if the ball stops within the offense and defense suffers with him on the court. It is hard to look and say Houston is better than where they were last year, but they are still among the league’s elite.
The Rockets had a plan coming into last season, using lengthy defenders like Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Trevor Ariza. This helped slow down some of the bigger small forwards, and this year their absence could be felt. They still have P.J. Tucker and James Ennis is not a bad defender, but when you look at matchups against Kevin Durant and LeBron James, you simply just need to make them earn it. If Houston’s defense begins to struggle, they will find themselves in some trouble in a very offensive minded Western Conference. If they are even slightly above average, the offense will carry them most nights.
The offseason was a busy one for Houston, and there was some doubt that Clint Capela wasn’t going to be a part of the future. This would have been a bad move for Houston given his age, but overall style he brings. Capela is an athletic center his has grown as a strong rim protector and rebounder. While his overall stamina has been questioned at times, he continues to get better in that department. Capela averaged 13 and 10 last season with 1.9 blocks per game. Houston would have desperately missed that if he didn’t resign with the Houston Rockets.
Michael Carter-Williams was a first round draft pick back in 2013, going 11th overall. He has been trending in the wrong direction, and has been passed around to a few teams already. Houston has transitioned him into an interesting point guard and wing player. MCW has a big frame at 6’6, and Houston will use him at a few positions depending on their lineups. When you look at the stats at the end of the year, you won’t see drastic changes, but overall MCW’s worth should be felt within the team. If he struggles, this will cause some problems for Houston.
Chris Paul has played 58 and 61 games over the last two seasons, and was injured in the late stages of the Golden State series. This really hindered the Rockets, and while they can manage Paul missing time in the regular season, his presence needs to be there in the postseason. The Rockets have Eric Gordon to play alongside James Harden in the meantime, but Paul is also a key defender as well. Gordon and Harden do not equal Paul on the defensive side. This also takes away from Gordon playing with the second unit and giving Houston a big edge there.