Welcome to the offseason forecast for James Harden and Company. Obviously, Harden is the focal point of the team, and will remain that no matter what goes down this offseason. Obviously their biggest issue was their horrendous defense all season long. The only bright spot defensively was Dwight Howard, as one would expect. However, he will likely be depart this offseason, so they will need to find even more defense if they want to get back to being a contender in the powerful Western Conference.
Here are the per game statistics for the 2015-2016 Houston Rockets:
W-L FG% 3P% FT FTA ORB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS 41-41 .452 .347 20.4 29.4 11.3 22.2 10.0 5.2 15.9 21.8 106.5
Here are the per game statistics for their opponents:
W-L FG% 3P% FT FTA ORB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS 41-41 .459 .361 18.6 24.6 11.8 24.6 9.0 4.9 16.6 22.5 106.4
Harden is a superstar, and there is no question about that. Even though he has a really high usage rate, the guy puts up great numbers and can lead a team on the offensive end. In a star-driven league, he is a huge building block. The Rockets have already shown that they can lure fellow stars to play along him (see Howard, Dwight), but they need to pick the right ones. Other than Harden, there are some young players waiting in the wings. Sam Dekker missed basically this entire season, so you could say that he practically redshirted this year. Along with Dekker comes Montrezl Harrell and K.J. McDaniels as the young players looking to improve next season. These are about it, though, as the Rockets do not own a pick in the first round this season.
In free agency, the two players that Rockets will likely target the most are Kevin Durant and Al Horford. To me, Horford is the much better fit. Westbrook and Durant worked as high usage players together in Oklahoma City, but I’m not sure that Durant would be a great fit alongside his former teammate again. It would be fun to see, but I seriously doubt that Durant goes to Houston. On the other hand, Horford would fill the void left by D-12. He is a back to the basket scorer who can also protect the rim. Without Howard, the Rockets will definitely need someone to anchor their defense and Horford can provide that.
If neither of these guys sign, then they will target that second or even third tier of small and power forwards. Big man shooting is a nice asset, so attracting Ryan Anderson or Marvin Williams would be a step in the right direction for Houston. Lastly, they also need to find a backup option for Patrick Beverley. Beverley is a great lockdown defender, but adding a spark plug scorer off the bench would be the ideal fit. Brandon Jennings or Jerryd Bayless would be worth a look was going to go in that direction.
For a team that finished at .500 this season, the Rockets are not too far off. If they can make some calculated moves in the offseason and find some dedication on the defensive end, they could find themselves as one of the top 4 seeds out west next season.
Previous Offseason Forecast: Chicago Bulls (42-40).
Next Offseason Forecast: Dallas Mavericks (42-40).
And that’s all I have for now, so this is me…signing off. -Lukas.