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The Rockets are at work building chemistry right now

Or at least their Instagrams look like they are

Portland Trail Blazers v Houston Rockets Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

For the first time, James Harden seems to be actively embracing a leadership role on the Houston Rockets, and it’s taken the shape of a joint retreat/workout session for the whole team in Miami.

And when I say the whole team, I mean the whole dang team.

Long day of work with my crew today. #healthymind

A photo posted by Clint Capela (@ccapela15) on

Miami Work

A video posted by Sam Dekker (@samdek7) on

And can we take a little break to gawk at this, from K.J. McDaniels?

Ching Chong!! #32Nation

A video posted by K.J (@kjonefoe) on

What starts out as your simple Ken Burns-ing of an IG, which, OK, but then an evil clown appears, followed by puppies smothering K.J. McDaniels. And that’s just the beginning of this roller-coaster ride. Plus, “Ching Chong!!”?? I have so many questions.

But this isn’t a post about K.J.’s Da Vinci Code-like cypher of an Instagram — although by popular demand I could write one of those — it’s a post about chemistry. It’s something the Rockets possessed two years ago, and magically vanished over last summer. And it’s the one thing the Rockets need more than anything if they’re going to succeed this year.

One workout in Miami does not an offseason make, but here’s the most notable gram of a workout from last summer. See if you can spot the difference.

Seeing the whole team there, even Gary Payton III, Isaiah Taylor and Kyle Wiltjer, is amazing. Eric Gordon is chucking up a deuce in Sam Dekker’s gram. James Harden looks jacked, instead of slightly pudgy. K.J. is clearly excited, or something.

Mike D’Antoni is a fresh voice in the room, the Rockets have cast off Dwight Howard, and James Harden has been empowered to take ownership of the franchise. And this is how he’s decided to do it.

This isn’t to say that the team will ultimately succeed or even like each other. Far from it. A huge problem last season was injuries during training camp and preseason that made it impossible to develop any sort of rhythm.

Training camp hasn’t started, Donatas Motiejunas isn’t signed — and isn’t in the picture. Come on Daryl! — so this is all fluff right now. But last season, there were warning signs that not all was right with the world as we built our expectations ever higher. This season, I literally have no idea what to expect, but the signs are all positive so far.