Houston Rockets: Can the resurgent Rockets make a push towards the playoffs?

NBA Houston Rockets Victor Oladipo (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)
NBA Houston Rockets Victor Oladipo (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports) /

Is their playoff life for the resurgent Houston Rockets?

There’s life in Houston. After the trade of James Harden, it seemed as if a rebuild was on the horizon for the Houston Rockets. The Harden saga shed a dim light on the organization and it seemed as if they were in for a dysfunctional season.

An inspiring start from Harden led to a small amount of optimism, but after back-to-back losses to the Lakers, it become clear. An expression filled press conference followed, and that would be the final straw, as Harden would be shipped to Brooklyn the next day.

Harden’s departure would bring Victor Oladipo over from the Indiana Pacers, which raised eyebrows. Oladipo is on an expiring contract and he has been publicly linked to the Miami Heat, his arrival looked like it’d bring more uncertainty to the Rockets organization than anything. After the Harden situation and everything they’ve been through with health protocols, the situation in Houston remained uneasy. Oladipo’s arrival has sparked a quick turn of direction.

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The Houston Rockets have picked up five straight wins. After losing seven of their first 10 games, throughout all of the turmoil, the Rockets team has grown through the adversity. Trading arguably their best scorer in franchise history was a hurdle Houston’s front office wanted to avoid, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

The addition of Victor Oladipo has led to a resurgence in Houston. The team is getting healthier and there’s finally a sense of unity.

The pairing of Oladipo and John Wall presents a formidable backcourt, especially since both are now past season derailing injuries and they both have something to prove. Both were former All-Star guards, both were traded away by organizations they blossomed under, and both have always been overlooked at their position, especially Wall.

The former No. 1 overall pick averaged double-digit assists for nearly five seasons and is often bypassed for higher scoring lead guards. Wall looks like the injuries may be behind him, and when his former team came to town, he outplayed the guy he was traded for.

Prior to the blockbuster trade, James Harden was building a great rapport with their new signing, Christian Wood. Harden and Wood meshed and gain chemistry immediately, but the new Houston big man’s play hasn’t tailed off since his departure. Wood looks like he may be blooming into one of the best offensive bigs in the league, averaging 24 and 11 a night. He’s a front-runner for the crowded NBA Most Improved Player Award, and he has a shot at becoming a first-time All-Star this season.

Due to health protocols, first-year head coach Stephen Silas has had to go through a few loops, and in return, he’s churned out a relatively deep bench. Eric Gordon is a human microwave who can fill up the scoreboard, when he gets it going from the deep Houston is hard to beat. Although he may be disgruntled about his contract situation, you know what the sneaker king P.J. Tucker brings to the table.

We’re also seeing DeMarcus Cousins healthy for the first time in a while. His big game against Dallas (28/17) showed the big man could still cause havoc with the workload and opportunity. Danuel House Jr.’s return to the rotation has given Houston an extra boost too. He’s their best perimeter defender, and Coach Silas is getting the best out of swingmen David Nwaba, Jae’Sean Tate, and former in-state SMU star Sterling Brown.

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They may not be contenders, but this isn’t the train wreck it appeared to be in December. The Houston Rockets are heading in the right direction, and after months of wheeling and dealing, the team may not be finished yet. A Victor Oladipo extension would be huge, but turning P.J. Tucker into some type of asset seems more likely. They could even be buyers at the deadline, as it appears this Houston team is here to compete.