We’re bored. There’s no basketball. No sports at all, actually. So why not create some fake basketball of our own? It’s in that spirit that we’ve created a Greatest Rockets Team of All-Time bracket, where we’re asking our loyal audience to pick who wins each matchup.
Here are your competitors.
1-Seed - 1994 Rockets
The first ever Houston title team started the year 22-1 and finished the regular season 58-24, while franchise-great Hakeem Olajuwon had the best all-around season of his career, becoming the only player (still) to win MVP, Finals MVP, and Defensive Player of the Year all in the same season. These guys invented the Clutch City moniker and were deep and versatile. They could play any style and were absolutely rugged defensively. But it all went through Dream.
2-Seed - 1995 Rockets
The second year of the back-to-back championships was not as successful in the regular season, finishing just 47-35, but a mid-season trade for Clyde Drexler had this team ready for a postseason run for the ages. All four teams they beat in the playoffs had at least 57 wins, including the 60-win Utah Jazz and 62-win San Antonio Spurs, and they swept the Shaquille O’Neal-led Orlando Magic in the Finals, the same team who beat Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Hakeem had one of the finest postseasons in NBA history, averaging 33 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.2 steals, and 2.8 blocks per game, and he famously eviscerated league MVP and future Hall-of-Famer David Robinson in the West Semis.
3-Seed - 2018 Rockets
This is the franchise high-water mark for regular season wins, as this team blew through the competition at a 65-17 clip. James Harden won the MVP award and averaged 30.4 per night, while new sidekick Chris Paul gave The Beard the Robin that he needed. The Rockets could score with anybody and also had a number of long forwards for their switching defensive scheme that had them ranked 3rd in the league in defensive rating. Only an unfortunate injury to Paul and some statistically anomalous shooting had them lose to the Golden State Warriors, one the best teams of all-time, in the West Finals.
4-Seed - 1986 Rockets
Ralph Sampson and The Dream combined to win 51 regular season games and take the Twin Towers all the way to the NBA Finals, where they would eventually lose to one of history’s greatest groups of assembled talent in the Boston Celtics. Along the way, they would take down the Showtime Lakers in five games and spark what many thought would be the team of the future before they infamously imploded in a haze of injuries and drug issues. Lewis Lloyd, Rodney McCray, and Robert Reid alongside the young and athletic Twin Towers will make this team a very tough out.
5-Seed - 2009 Rockets
Maybe a surprise to some to see this team so high, but there are many out there who feel this squad wins a title if Yao Ming didn’t get hurt in the second round against the Lakers. There was no Tracy McGrady, who played in just 35 games due to injury, but there was Ron Artest, Shane Battier, Luis Scola, Carl Landry, Aaron Brooks, Kyle Lowry, and mohawked fan favorite Von Wafer to complement Yao, who was playing at an MVP level. These guys had a TON of heart, and that’s difficult to beat. If healthy, they might have a ring.
6-Seed - 1997 Rockets
This 57-win squad featured an original Big Three of Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and the newly acquired Charles Barkley, who averaged 23.2, 18, and 19.3 points per game respectively. They cruised through the regular season, simply having too much talent for most teams, and they even took down their arch-nemesis Seattle Supersonics in the Western Conference Semifinals. Unfortunately, that series took a lot out of them, and being that they traded most of their depth in the Barkley deal, they didn’t have quite enough to get by the Utah Jazz in the West Finals, losing in six games on an infamous John Stockton dagger through the heart.
7-Seed - 1981 Rockets
This team finished just 40-42. Well, how the hell are they on the list, you ask? Well, they went on an unexpected, yet superb postseason run all the way to the NBA Finals. Moses Malone averaged 28 and 15 in the regular season and followed that up with an equally as dominant playoff, averaging 27 and 14. They were never going to beat the Celtics in the Finals, but they put up a valiant effort behind Malone and Robert Reid, taking an all-time great team to six games. When Malone was hot, this team could play with anyone.
8-Seed - 2015 Rockets
These guys won 56 games behind James Harden and Dwight Howard, as these two also led a playoff push all the way to the Western Conference Finals. They would lose in five to the Golden State Warriors, but The Beard was just coming into his own as an unstoppable force, while Howard had yet to fall off and put in some fantastic work in the postseason. His playoff numbers of 16.4 points, 14 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks were eye-popping for a guy no longer in his prime, and this was the peak of the short-lived Harden-Howard combo. This team didn’t have a ton of depth, but by the sheer dominating force of their two best players, they could do some damage.
We’ll be back in a few days, and we’ll be asking our readers at TDS to vote in a poll. The winners of the poll for each matchup will advance. Simple as that. Check back soon!