2016-2017 in review: 55-27, 3rd in West. Lost in second round to the San Antonio Spurs.

Key offseason acquisitions: G Chris Paul, C Tarik Black, F Luc Mbah a Moute, F P.J. Tucker

Key offseason losses: G Lou Williams, G Patrick Beverley, F Montrezl Harrell, F Sam Dekker

Projected starting lineup: Chris Paul, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, Clint Capela

2017-2018 season outlook: The Houston Rockets have assembled the most talented backcourt of all-time. When the team decided to trade for future Hall-of-Famer Chris Paul they turned their team into a legitimate contender.

James Harden finished second in the MVP voting last year after a solid season, eventually losing out on the award to Russell Westbrook. He averaged a near triple-double, scoring almost 30 points, collecting eight rebounds, and notching eleven assists per game. Harden flourished as the primary ball-handler in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense, the fast-paced three point shooting offense fit ‘The Beard’ perfectly. Making the move for Paul gives Harden a player who can take a lot of the weight off his shoulders.

Paul, who is widely considered the best all-around point guard in the league needs the ball to be effective, with Harden and Paul sharing the back court, expect a feeling out period to take place early in the season. These two ball-dominant players will cause matchup problems for any defense, and they have a ton of offensive weapons to get the ball to.

As well as this, the two All-Star’s have bigs such as Clint Capela and Tarik Black who will feast on the pick and roll. Harden and Paul also have three-point snipers everywhere, guarding the Rockets will be a challenge to every single team. But, the acquisition of Paul may slow the tempo and three-point shooting down for the Rockets. This could be a good thing since it’ll allow the Rockets to score in more ways than one, but it also may take away Houston’s identity and biggest asset which suited them so perfectly last year, as Houston broke the Golden State Warriors’ record for three-pointers made in a season.

Since Paul and Harden will have to co-exist, which will surely take some time, the Rockets may have a worst record than last year. Even if Houston struggles early, they will be a better playoff team than last year, so when the postseason comes around, be sure to keep one eye on the Rockets.

Projected Strengths: Leadership, offensive fire power, rebounding

Projected Weaknesses: Defense

Projected win total: 53-29

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