Since the release of NBA.com All-Decade Team, fans have spent the bulk of the past month reminiscing over which players deserve the honor for their respective team. The decade gave some fan bases their most historic and iconic talents in the history of their franchise (Warriors and Cavaliers), while others suffered through disappointing players who failed to live up to their potential (Knicks and Kings).
And then there are the Houston Rockets. Although the 2010s only produced one iconic player, the Rockets have seen a fair share of talented ballplayers come through their organization the past 10 years. Which brings up the question, what would a Houston Rockets All-Decade Team look like?
It is a simple question, but greatly debatable once looking past the obvious choice of a future Hall-of-Famer.
Point guard: Patrick Beverley
Chris Paul or Patrick Beverly? This topic is the most debatable position of the 2010s for the Rockets.
Paul has a strong case to be named the Rockets’ best point guard of the decade. In two seasons, he helped transform the team from pretenders to contenders and could have ended the decade as a champion if it was not for a hamstring injury against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
Although Paul was a valuable piece to the Rockets success the past two seasons, it’s not enough to erase what Patrick Beverly meant to the Rockets for five years.
When he arrived mid-season in 2013, no one could have imagined the impact Beverley would go on to have on the team. As the EuroCup MVP, he was a journeyman who made a name for himself playing in the Ukraine, Greece, and Russia. From the moment he stepped on the court in his debut against the Clippers, Beverley made the most of his opportunity.
While playing alongside James Harden, Beverley was the perfect guard to play off the ball. He helped spread the floor while shooting 37.5% from deep, but his biggest impact came on the defensive end.
Next to Vernon Maxwell and Shane Battier, Beverley established himself as one of the best perimeter defenders in franchise history. A member of the NBA All-Defensive First Team (2017) and All-Defensive Second Team (2014) while with the Rockets, Beverley’s hustle and lockdown defense was the heart and soul of the team for half of the decade.
Shooting guard: James Harden
From the most debatable position to the least, no player on this list defined this decade of Rockets basketball more than James Harden.
He is widely considered the best two-guard in the league and continues to make a strong case as the Rockets’ second-best player in franchise history. An original member of the All-Decade First-Team according to NBA.com, Harden is creating an everlasting imprint on the Rockets organization.
When compared to the rest of the league as a whole, it is hard not to say that Harden has been the most sensational player to watch during the 2010s. How so? His 61-point performance against the Knicks is far from the highest pinnacle of his career. The same may be said for his 60-point triple-double against the Magic in 2018.
A seven-time all-star. A five-time member of the All-NBA First Team. A two-time scoring champion. And an MVP award in 2018. The only goal left for Harden to accomplish in his career is to capture an NBA title, something he could very well achieve as he enters the 2020s.
Small Forward: Trevor Ariza
As the old saying goes, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone,” is the best way to describe Trevor Ariza. Often taken for granted, Ariza has an argument to be hailed as the most important Rocket of the decade outside of The Beard.
Although the team had All-Star talent in Harden and Dwight Howard, Houston did not become a serious championship contender until Ariza’s arrival in 2014. His defensive ability to guard one through five helped the Rockets reach the Conference Finals in two of his four seasons (2015 & 2018), while they only failed to make it out of the first round once (2016).
Ariza’s value to the team was never fully appreciated until his departure in 2018, when the Rockets spent the majority of their season searching for his replacement.
Power Forward: Luis Scola
No position on this list has seen more players come and go the past 10 years than at power forward.
Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas shared the bulk of the decade as the Rockets’ longest tenure at the position, while P.J. Tucker has done an exceptional job at power forward in an era of position-less basketball. Though all were productive in their own way, no player ever matched the productivity of Luis Scola.
At the start of the decade, the Rockets entered the 2010s in a place of uncertainty. The T-Mac and Yao era had come to an end, and the team was three years away from making a blockbuster deal to acquire James Harden from the Thunder. Although they failed to make the playoffs for three straight years, Scola gave the Rockets plenty of production and stability from 2010-2012.
The 2010-11 campaign proved to be the best season of his five-year tenure with the Rockets. He averaged a career-high 18.3 points and 8.6 rebounds while helping the Rockets to a 43–39 record, their most successful season during the superstar-less era in Houston.
Center: Dwight Howard
Unlike their frontcourt counterparts, the big men in the middle have been the Rockets’ second-most-talented position of the decade. Clint Capela has continued to be a dominant force in the paint the latter half of the decade, but his on-court efforts have yet to match that of Dwight Howard.
Similar to his career as a whole, Howard’s place among the Rockets elite is questionable. When he first came to Houston he was beloved by all, but strongly disliked by the end of his tenure, all in a span of three years. By his final season in 2016, Howard and the Rockets reached an ugly divorce once it became evident that he and Harden could no longer co-exist on the court. When looking past the turmoil and games missed due to injuries, Howard had a very good run with the Rockets.
The 2013-14 season turned out to be his final year living up to the nickname, “Superman,” as he appeared in his eighth and final All-Star game, averaging 18.3 points and 12.2 rebounds through 76 games. By the postseason, “Playoff Dwight” was born after averaging 26.0 points and 13.7 rebounds during the six-game series against the Portland Trail Blazers. His Game 2 performance still stands as one of the greatest outings of the decade, as the future Hall-of-Famer recorded 32 points, 14 rebounds, and four blocks in the loss.
With Howard, the Rockets never failed to miss the playoffs and gave fans some of their most memorable moments of the 2010s. If only Howard had been more willing to run the pick-and-roll, the sky is the limit of what the Rockets could have accomplished with him this decade.
Who’s your starting PG on the All-Decade team?
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Who’s your starting center on the All-Decade team?
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