2019 Rockets Hope Reunifying of Stars Propels Them to Finals
2019 Houston Rockets Betting Storylines
The Houston Rockets have been so close for a while now, but they have really struggled to get over the top. And last year was the breaking point - they saw the writing on the wall. The Golden State Warriors were very vulnerable last year in the Western Conference Finals - as the Toronto Raptors showed a series later. But Houston shot themselves in the foot, couldn't overcome injury concerns, and lost their most recent best chance. So, they made a change. A change that probably had to be made. It wasn't a total roster overhaul like some teams did. But it was a seismic trade nonetheless. And it could mean a pretty different style of play.
It all feels a little desperate, but that only matters if it doesn't work out. Have the Rockets done enough to keep up - and move forward - in the brutal arms race that is the Western Conference?
2019 Houston Rockets Additions and Departures
The big deal, of course, was the addition of Russell Westbrook, uniting the point guard with his former teammate and fellow MVP, James Harden. It doesn't get much bigger than that. There are just four prior situations in which two former MVPs have been on the same team. All four have won a title. That's a lot of pressure on this situation. The price wasn't overwhelming that they paid for him - compared to the bounties paid this summer for Paul George and Anthony Davis, at least. But it wasn't nothing, either. The Rockets sent Chris Paul, the last superstar that was supposed to save this team, to Oklahoma City , and packed his luggage with two first-round picks and two more first-round pick swaps. So, in the short term at least, the only cost was a point guard they just replaced and some picks too far away to worry about when you are trying to climb through an open window now. It could be worse. It's hard to know what is really going to happen with this move. The rumors of Paul and Harden not getting along together were loud, but what we did know was that Paul wasn't getting any younger, struggled to stay healthy, and wasn't proving to be the key to winning here. But can Westbrook do better? He can certainly score. And rebound. And create. That is all beyond dispute. But Westbrook and Harden are two of the most ball dominant players in the league, and it is doubtful that the league will let them play with two balls. They need to find a way to co-exist. It is far from a doomed endeavor, and both guys will be highly motivated to find a way to make it work - this is their last best chance for success. The stakes couldn't be higher. But the upside is massive, too.
Beyond that, the team mostly just took care of their business. They signed Eric Gordon - the fourth of their big four along with defensive wall Clint Capela - to a four-year extension at fair money. They brought Austin Rivers and Gerald Green back on cheap deals. They let Kenneth Faried and Deyonta Davis walk. And they filled up the roster with some interesting pieces with upside like Tyson Chandler, Ben McLemore, Anthony Bennett, Ryan Anderson, and Thabo Sefolosha. None of those guys are in their prime - and a couple never had one - but they could be useful, and the price is reasonable.
The team didn't have a draft pick of any kind this year. And they didn't take action to do anything about it aside from bringing in a couple of undrafted guys for a look. This is not a young roster, and the team clearly is okay with that.
2019 Houston Rockets Futures Odds and Trends
Houston Rockets Futures Odds
NBA title odds : +800
Western Conference title odds : +350
Southwest Division title odds: -275
James Harden MVP Odds : +800 (fourth best)
Russell Westbrook MVP Odds : +2500
Season win total : 53.5
Will the Houston Rockets make the playoffs: Yes -650, No +500
At 40-39-3 ATS, the team was as close to perfectly average as you could hope for - or rather, how you would really not hope for. They were no better when it comes to totals, either - they went under 41 times and over 39.
2019 Houston Rockets Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
The core is solid here, the bench is decent enough, and I like the coaching. This is going to be a solid team no doubt and can easily be a top three team in the conference in wins. But I don't have full confidence that the pairing of superstars will be better than the sum of the parts. And even if it is, I don't know that I buy that this core group is enough to get past the other top teams in the conference. Westbrook is a scoring machine, but he does it at the cost of efficiency. And that isn't what the Rockets have traditionally been about. They won 53 games last year and should be able to meet or beat that. But they haven't won when it matters. And I still don't think that they will.
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