Houston Rockets are a dark horse NBA championship contender

Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook and James Harden (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook and James Harden (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets are a championship contender when the season restarts

Being a big believer in the power of common logic and simply following it can do wonders for your life. Those that ignore the basic principles of common knowledge usually look back on their decisions with regrets. However, when it comes to the Houston Rockets and its all-in small-ball lineup this season, I am confidently going against common logic.

Houston has been a perennial contender in the Western Conference for the past 5-6 seasons and probably would have won a championship had it not been for the legendary Golden State Warriors dynasty that reached five straight NBA Finals, defeating the Rockets on three of those occasions.

Common knowledge suggests that the Rockets’ chances of winning an NBA title limped off the court during Game 5 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals when Chris Paul injured his
hamstring in the fourth quarter against the Warriors.

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Common knowledge also suggests that James Harden is unreliable in the playoffs, Mike D’Antoni’s system is flawed and Russell Westbrook’s shot selection gets worse the further he goes in the playoffs, but miss me with that.

Houston Rockets should be getting more respect as a contender

I’m not insinuating that Houston is definitively winning the 2020 NBA title, but if you think
they have ZERO chance of holding the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the season, you’re sadly mistaken.

James Harden has arguably been the best player on the planet for the last five years and D’Antoni has fathered one of the most efficient offensive systems in the history of the game. Add a healthy
and able Russell Westbrook, along with a system that is now completely centered around
maximizing possessions by taking higher percentage shots earlier in the shot clock, and you have
a new innovative system that just might work.

The public can have their doubts, rightfully so, however, I will be the first to say that James Harden’s playoff woes are grossly overstated. The Rockets’ rise as true title contenders commenced almost exactly when the Golden State Warriors ascended to historical greatness, birthing a new era and assembling quite possibly the most talented team in NBA history, after adding Durant to their record-shattering 73-win squad.

Additionally, if it weren’t for Chris Paul injuring his hamstring during the 2018 NBA playoffs, the Rockets could have probably been NBA champions. The Rockets are for real. If you think they believe that their story is over and their window of opportunity has passed, you have misjudged this Houston Rockets team.

There are a lot of firsts within this team. The FIRST time in five seasons that the Rockets will not have to go through the greatest shooting backcourt of all-time, the FIRST time they have gone all-in on their run and gun small-ball style, the FIRST time they will have Westbrook and Harden in the playoffs together and the FIRST time in five seasons that everyone has completely counted them out.

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Admittedly, the Houston Rockets are not considered a top three favorite to win the 2020 NBA title, however, to utterly ignore their chances of pulling it off, would be irrational.