Houston Rockets: Blasting Off Into Training Camp

The Houston Rockets had a very interesting 2018-2019 campaign. They got off to a really slow start and people were wondering if Houston was having a hangover from having the best record in the NBA back in 2017-2018. The Rockets were one win away from going to the NBA Finals against that season.

They lost in Game 7 at home without Chris Paul last season. Houston had Carmelo Anthony to start the year last season and he was released after the first few games of the regular season. Anthony has not played in the NBA since and it is very possible he may never play in the NBA again because of it.

James Harden was the best player in the NBA for a certain period of time last season. He did not have Chris Paul along his side for a certain amount of time because Paul had another injury.

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Houston was the number four seed in the playoffs last season. They took down the Utah Jazz in five games in the first round.

In the second round of the playoffs, the Houston Rockets faced the Golden State Warriors. The series was tied two with Game 5 at Oracle Arena. Kevin Durant came out of that game with a calf injury in the third quarter and he did not return for the rest of the series. Houston lost Game 5 and Game 6 to get eliminated. They got a backlash for losing that series.

This offseason, General Manager Daryl Morey traded Chris Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Russell Westbrook straight up. Westbrook will be reunited with Harden and it will be interesting to see how they will co-exist with each other this team around.

Both of those players want their ball in their hands. Russell Westbrook has averaged a triple-double for the last three years in his career. He won MVP in 2017 and Harden won MVP in 2018.

The Westbrook trade is very similar to what the Toronto Raptors did last offseason.

Toronto was a good team, but they couldn’t get over a certain team (Cleveland Cavaliers). Then Lebron James left the east. The Raptors traded for Kawhi Leonard and got rid of DeMar Derozan. Toronto upgraded superstar caliber players and they won a championship.

With the Westbrook trade, Houston upgraded superstar caliber players as well. Golden State is all banged up now and not the same. Nonetheless, the Rockets have struggled to beat them. Kevin Durant is out of the conference and Klay Thompson will be out until at least January or February. The Rockets feel like they can win it all now that Golden State may not be in their way.

The projected starting lineup will be (C) Clint Capela, (PF) P.J. Tucker, (SF) Eric Gordon, (SG) James Harden, and (PG) Russell Westbrook.

Some of the key players off the bench will be (C) Tyson Chandler, (G/F) Gerald Green, and (G) Austin Rivers.

Head Coach Mike D’Antoni likes to only use a seven to eight-man rotation tops. He should use his bench more but D’Antoni doesn’t for some reason. He is entering the final year of his contract. Thus if the Houston Rockets get off to a slow start this season, it could be interesting to see what happens.

(G) Michael Frazier, (F/C) Isaiah Hartenstein, (F/G) Danuel House Jr., and (G) Ben McLemore should see some playing time as well this season.

It will be also interesting to see where the Houston Rockets finish in the Western Conference standings this season. The Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Utah Jazz, the Portland Trail Blazers, the Golden State Warriors, and the Denver Nuggets will be good again this season.

Houston has not announced a date yet for training camp. They will begin preseason play Monday, September 30 against a team from another country at the Toyota Center. Also, the Rockets will begin preseason play against an NBA team on Friday, October 4 against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Finally, they will begin the regular season at home on Thursday, October 24 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

How do you feel about the 2019 Houston Rockets? Leave a comment below.

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Follow Glenn on Twitter @glennkaplan13.

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