For the last several seasons, on the week of the NBA regular season opening, we’ve offered up the record prognostications of the TDS writers and also gave you a chance to share yours. So without further ado, it’s the 2019-2020 Rockets season prediction piece.
Coty Davis (@CotyDavis_24):
James Harden and Russell Westbrook. While many have questioned their ability to play together, I believe this pairing will surpass expectations on their way to become a top-two duo in the league. Harden and Westbrook have achieved so much on an individual level, that both will make the necessary sacrifice for the greater good of the team.
I have the Rockets finishing as a top-two seed in the West (58-24), and advancing to the Conference Finals. Unfortunately, I do have them losing to the Lakers in a tough seven-game series.
The one thing that concerns me about the Rockets’ ability to advance past the Lakers is their lack of size. Outside of Clint Capela and Tyson Chandler, Houston has an enormous issue matching up with Los Angeles, and the addition of Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis will help the Lakers exploit the Rockets’ weakness.
Hopefully, Daryl Morey will add some much-needed size to the roster at some point during the season. If not, one can expect another heartbreaking playoff loss for the Houston Rockets.
Predicted Record: 58-24, second seed in the Western Conference
Jeremy Brener (@JeremyBrener):
This season, the Western Conference is more of a jungle than ever before. Seven teams have the potential to win the conference, including the Houston Rockets. This season is going to come down to two things: a) how well teams will adapt with their chemistry, and b) how healthy teams can stay.
The Rockets have already proven these two items will pose as a challenge for them this season, the latter more than the former. Losing Gerald Green for the season hurts and Daryl Morey will find a replacement for him with some shrewd acquisition like he always does. I am also very concerned for Russell Westbrook’s health as it already appears that he is not at 100 percent before the season begins.
Look for James Harden to carry this team on his back (again) and for the Rockets to get to 48 wins. It’s good enough to get the 5-seed in the playoffs this year. But the playoffs will come down to matchups. I do think the Rockets have the pieces to beat any team in the West and it ultimately comes down to what teams they will see in the postseason.
Predicted Record 48-34, fifth seed in the Western Conference
Armin Khansari (AK) (@ak2themax):
I’ve already made my feelings about Russell Westbrook known, and I haven’t changed those opinions since the trade itself. I think that if James Harden is healthy, the floor for Houston is the playoffs and 50 wins. However, I think the Rockets take a step back this season because Westbrook does not bring what Houston needs, which is what Chris Paul provided: a steady hand at the wheel when Harden was sitting/struggling.
Sure, Russ can help Houston win games if Harden gets hurt, but the Rockets cannot build themselves for October through April. With May and June (hopefully) in mind, I think the Rockets are poorly equipped to advance through the Western Conference gauntlet with such a poor shooter on the floor.
I hope the team can figure out a way to merge Harden’s isolation brilliance and Westbrook’s intense style without diminishing either, but part of me also feels that anything that takes the ball out of Harden’s hands is a poor strategy.
I’m also terrified that the Rockets are just waiting for the first sign of poor play to fire Daryl Morey to appease China. That would be a travesty as Morey has been the architect of the greatest era for the Rockets in the 25 years since their second title. He’s the best GM in all of sports, but I worry that Tilman Fertitta is dying to put the Hong Kong tweet behind the franchise.
I want to believe in this team, but the potential for disaster is too great.
Predicted Record: 50-32, an early playoff exit, and maybe some drama?
I’m known as an optimist around here, and I suppose this season will be no different in that regard. There’s a considerable amount of negative sentiment surrounding the addition of Russell Westbrook. I understand it, the past is a better predictor of the future than our wishes.
That said, there’s been a growing sense in me that basketball isn’t “solved” or “figured out” to the extent, say, baseball is (Go Astros!). I think that Westbrook will add an element that’s been missing from the Rockets, some chaos, or spark, or intensity. I hope that Westbrook will wake the Rockets from their dogmatic slumber and allow them to have the “Plan B” we’ve long awaited.
With the shiny new Western Conference contenders around, people seem to have forgotten a bit about the Rockets. One thing to remember, since Mike D’Antoni became coach the Rockets have had amongst the best records in the NBA and in recent years have only been defeated by the Western Conference champions. The opponent that dispatched them effectively doesn’t exist right now.
On other fronts, I think the China/NBA/Rockets/Morey stuff will blow over. As for the underlying situation, I’m less sanguine. One thing to remember, it’s not just the NBA that loses money. Their games are carried in China because companies, Tencent in particular, believe they will make money from their own customers. It’s not a gift of money to the NBA, though it might seem that way to some, it’s a business deal.
Predicted Record: 59-23, first in Western Conference.
Darren Yuvan (@DarrenYuvan):
I handled the Rockets portion of the SB Nation at-large season preview, and I’m not going to deviate from that much. I agree with AK that the floor of a team led by a healthy, in-prime Harden right now is likely around 50 games, but I believe they’ll be better than that. I’m a little concerned about some of the defensive lapses I saw in the preseason, and I hope we don’t see much, if any, of Ryan Anderson at center. He’s been a turnstile for several seasons now, and you would think Mike D’Antoni would have learned his lesson the first time through with Ryno.
And the Rockets are already dealing with some injuries — Gerald Green and Nene are hurt, while Austin Rivers and Russell Westbrook are a little bit banged up as well. But if healthy, this is a deeper and better squad (at least on paper) than the one that won 53 games last season.
I also think we could see another level (if that’s even possible) for The Beard this season. He’s already looked unstoppable in the preseason, though we’re going to need to see a little more balance if this team is going to have the ultimate success.
I think we see supernova Beard to start off the season while Westbrook gets healthy and fully acclimated, with maybe a rough patch or two mixed in. But this team has caught absolute fire after uneven starts before, and I look for them to be cruising by midseason to an eventual 57-25 record and the second seed in the Western Conference.
Predicted Record: 57-25, second in the Western Conference
How many games will the Rockets win this season?
This poll is closed
Less than 50