The MVP race this season is arguably the best we’ve seen in the decade. James Harden and Russell Westbrook are having historical seasons respectively. However, the light being shed on Harden’s MVP case is leaving Houston’s accomplishments in the dark.
The Houston Rockets are currently the 3rd best team in the league, by record not opinion. At 50-22 the Rockets are the 3rd seed in the West, and clinched playoffs on March 14th. Prepared for a run at a championship, the Rockets are coming after the Golden State Warriors:
In the off season, after being knocked out of the playoffs in the first round the Rockets knew they had to make a change. They made key additions including: Nene Hilario, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, and most recent Lou Williams. The Golden State Warriors gave up a lot of depth to their bench to make the cap space to sign Durant. Houston is on such a roll right now with rotations and player roles that I don’t think the Warriors can keep up. With the new head coaching change, the Rockets took on a new identity that we now know as: the most lethal team from beyond the arc.
On average, Houston takes 40 threes a game! They are the new 2.0 version of last year’s Warriors and have dominated from beyond the arc. In Sunday’s match up against the Thunder, they had already connected on 11 by halftime. In comparison to the Warriors, Houston makes around 2.7 more three-pointers a game, and attempts 9.2 more. As of Sunday evening, this team has eight players who are shooting .348 or better from three-point land (GS has 6). In addition, Houston has set records in threes attempted in a half (31) and in a game (61) this season.
In their last 22 games, the Rockets are 16-6. They are a team that has been moving so high-speed they’re starting to run out of gas. Regardless, they remain intact. Thanks to the depth I mentioned before, this team is able to experiment with interesting lineups and rest their key players more. This season, the Rockets have gone on numerous win streaks, most notable is their 10 game win streak in December. They have beaten nearly every team in Western Conference contention: (SA 101-99,UTA 111-102,GS 132-127,LAC 140-116,DEN 128-110, and even CLE 117-112).After the game against OKC on Sunday, the Rockets have now scored 100 points in 60 consecutive games. This is the longest such streak since the early eighties.
When it comes to the MVP award, I truly believe Harden is an essential piece of this Houston team. Without him? I imagine the Rockets would be somewhere around the 10th seed in the West, as they still feature a lot of talent without their starting point guard. James Harden’s impact on this team is nothing to take shots at. In his last fifteen games, Harden has scored less than 20 points three times. In that same fifteen game span, he hasn’t record a double-double on only two occasions. Everyone talks about Westbrook’s triple double record for the Thunder, so I thought I’d put together Rocket records regarding Harden:
-When Harden records a triple-double the team is 15-4.
-When Harden records just a double-double the team is 44-13.
The Houston Rockets are a real threat to all teams in the league, but especially the Golden State Warriors. It’s like fighting fire with fire, except we’re speaking on the three ball. Due to their depth, length, and athleticism, I’m picking the Houston Rockets to win it all this year.
All stats and information provided by ESPN and NBA.com, featured image provided by NBA.com.