Despite falling to the Warriors in the playoffs, the Rockets were one of the league’s best teams last season, surprising many Doubting Thomases by upsetting the Spurs and Clippers to advance to the 2014-15 Western Conference finals, where they gave Golden State a hellish time before bowing out of the postseason games with their heads held high.
Entering 2015, the Rockets are looking to build on last year’s momentum and figure out how to achieve even more success in the upcoming season. To propel their dreams, the Rockets have made some key additions to their team this offseason and retained most of its core from last year. Below is an analysis of the offseason moves and how it will affect their sports betting odds to make a deep postseason run in the 2015-16 NBA season.
Can the Rockets be the Sports Betting Dark Horse for the Western Conference Crown?
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) August 6, 2015
Where the Rockets Got Better this offseason
The Rockets improved on their offense in a huge way by trading for explosive point guard Ty Lawson. Since their biggest down fall last season was the lack of a second playmaker to support James Harden, Lawson’s ability to make plays on both ends of the field will be hugely impactful. Lawson, a former Denver Nuggets point guard, was listed amongst the top-10 point guards in the league in 2015, outperforming big names like Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers) and Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), so his presence should be a big boost to the team’s offense.
The Rockets also accomplished continuity this offseason after years of constant change because of Daryl Morey (General Manager, Houston) trying to establish a contender team. The Rockets kept the core of their roster intact by re-signing Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer, and K.J. McDaniels to help cover up for Josh Smith, who was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in the offseason. More importantly, the Rockets did not lose a single serious rotational player from the squad that made it to the Western Conference Finals last year. Added to the leadership of Dwight Howard and James Harden, the Rockets should be able to have another year of impressing in the league and maybe even winning the Western Crown.
Where the Rockets Got Worse this offseason
The biggest concern for the Rockets will be Lawson’s off-court problems, which have sometimes made it difficult to witness sustained success. Furthermore, the downside to the Lawson deal is his not-so-stellar defensive abilities when compared to the incumbent starter Beverley. The good news, however, is that Beverley can probably play together with Lawson as point guards, with Beverly focusing more on the defensive duties, which will allow Lawson to do whatever he wills as a scorer and overall playmaker.
In addition, the loss of Smith could hurt Houston on the defensive side of the ball, due to the versatile and extra rim-protection he provided to the team. Despite slightly dropping off in the playoffs, Houston generally had a solid defense last season. So although Beverley re-signed to the team and the Rockets could be formidable again this year, the impact of losing Smith is likely to have some negative effect on the defense.
Final Remarks and Predicting the 2015 Houston Season
Though the Rockets lost two major rotational players to injuries in the course of the season, they still managed to clinch the No. 2 seed in the West and even made it to the Western Conference Finals in 2014-15. If they can keep that zeal, achieving more success should be possible this year. Plus, on-top of the re-signs and Lawson’s addition, the Rockets had a decent offseason, adding the likes of Sam Dekker (drafted 18th overall).
Still, even with the Rockets reinforcements, the West got better too, as perennial title contenders like San Antonio (added LaMarcus Aldridge), Oklahoma City (re-signed Kevin Durant) and Golden State (retained most last year’s championship-winning squad) have what it takes to go the distance. In the end, therefore, the race for the Western Conference Crown is not going to be about what the Rockets did in the offseason, but about what every team did in the West, and judging by our assessments, Houston fans will need a lot of pieces to fall in place if they are to achieve their valid dreams of winning it all in the Western Conference.