Rockets training camp is now just three days away, starting on Saturday, September 24. Media Day is on Friday September 23. The real most glorious time of the year, the start of the NBA season, is almost upon us, which means more news, more insider reports, more tweets and thankfully, more articles here at TDS to cover it all for your discussion.
With camp so close, we’ve been seeing the over/under win projections for the season, and they have the Rockets no better than they were last year.
2016-17 NBA regular season win totals— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) September 20, 2016
Last year’s squad, as you recall, finished .500 at 41-41, so the 41.5 over/under has them right on par with that win total again.
Personally, I have the Rockets looking like a good bet for the over. They’re not a definite 50-win team, though their ceiling certainly has them in that territory. But they should settle in around the 46-48 win range with a roster that appears to be a good fit for newly hired Mike D’Antoni. Combine that with a better offseason, a determined, more focused James Harden and the removal of last year’s major locker room distraction in Dwight Howard, and you have a a recipe for the team to improve on last season’s total.
The Rockets have already been working on making last year’s ugly and obvious lack of chemistry a thing of the past. James Harden recently told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
“This entire summer I thought about last season, how there was a terrible taste in my mouth. I wanted to come back, get the guys together. I wanted to get the guys together, in Vegas in mid-July and in Miami (last month) just to hang out. I think the better you are off the court, the better you will be on the court. Just worked out with the guys, went to a concert, had dinner with the guys. It's going to carry over to the court. This summer is really a team bonding thing.”
And The Beard also told Feigen that he’s been spending his entire summer training, a welcome departure from last offseason’s celebrity-dominated Harden headlines.
“On any team, in any sport, if you don't have the entire team on one page, the entire team having one goal, you're not going to be successful. That's what we're trying to build here in Houston. We have several new guys, we want them to come and feel like this is a great group and we're going to build this together... “
“I've been training all summer. Last season wasn't great at all. It was very disappointing. I don't want to let that happen two years in a row. I've been in the gym working out to get my mind, body and soul right."
This all sounds like positive mojo for a team that was desperately in need of some. At least for the moment, there’s a good vibe surrounding this Rockets team that just wasn’t present at any point during last year’s offseason or lead up to camp.
The only factor that can really derail this year’s squad from improving is injuries. Newcomers Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Nene Hilario are all historically injury-prone players, and they say the best statistical predictor of future injury unfortunately is past injury. If the Rockets are forced into facing vast portions of the year without several or all three of those guys, it could be tough sledding for the boys in red.
Though even if the bug hits, the under on 41.5 would still be far from a foregone conclusion on an in-his-prime James-Harden-led squad. With The Beard in top form and returnees Trevor Ariza, Patrick Beverley and Clint Capela still around to complement their All-Star teammate, the Rockets should have a relatively high floor this season as well. A .500 finish again appears worst case. Give me the Rockets and over 41.5 wins.
What say you, Rockets fans? Houston at 41.5 -- over or under?