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Houston Rockets Betting Outlook 

Western Conference Odds: +1400

Preseason NBA Championship Odds: +2600

The Houston Rockets have quite a different look, with Russell Westbrook traded to Washington for guard John Wall in a blockbuster.There is a new coach in Stephen Silas, and James Harden is unhappy and wants to be traded as well.

Amid all that as a backdrop, the Rockets are still considered one of the top teams in the Western Conference if Harden does play and Wall is fully healthy. The team will move away from the small-ball lineup that it experimented with at the end of last season, with Demarcus Cousins back and hopefully healthy.

The drama of Harden will need to be resolved one way or another before the Rockets can reach their full potential, but there is definitely some chance this team could be in the mix for a top four seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Rockets 2021 Predictions

Regular Season Record: 40-32

Conference Standing: Sixth

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Harden will dominate the ball as long as he’s on the court for Houston, though he’s also one of the best passing guards in the league as well. How well he’ll mix with Wall, another guard who is used to handling the ball a lot, will be interesting after the experiments with Westbrook and Chris Paul both ended unceremoniously over the past two seasons.

Wall was a perennial All-Star with Washington when he was healthy, although that has been the biggest caveat to his career. Wall hasn’t played a full 82 games since the 2013-14 season and has appeared in just 73 games over the last three seasons, including the entire 2019-20 campaign due to injuries. He appears back to health, and if he is, he’ll provide a lot of scoring and playmaking for the Rockets.

Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets Team History

The Houston Rockets have been part of the NBA since the 1967-68 season when they were formed as an expansion franchise known as the San Diego Rockets. After a bad first season, the Rockets had the No. 1 overall pick and selected forward Elvin Hayes out of the University of Houston.

Despite a playoff appearance in Hayes’ first season and the additions of Calvin Murphy and Rudy Tomjanovich to the roster, the Rockets had financial problems in San Diego and moved to Houston prior to the 1971-72 campaign.

Tex Winter was named coach after the move to Houston, and his offensive system clashed with how Hayes wanted to play, causing the star to ask for a trade, which he got to Baltimore following the season. Heading into the 1976-77 season, the Rockets added guard John Lucas and center Moses Malone, which led to a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1977, where Houston lost to Philadelphia.

Malone was named the league MVP for the 1978-79 season, though the team was swept in the first round of the playoffs, prompting a change to Del Harris as the head coach. Prior to the 1980-81 season, the Rockets were moved to the Western Conference as part of the NBA’s realignment, and Malone led the 40-42 squad to the postseason, qualifying on the last day of the regular season.

Houston upset the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, then got past the San Antonio Spurs and Kansas City Kings to become only the second team to reach the NBA Finals with a losing regular-season record. The Rockets couldn’t upset the Boston Celtics, though, falling in six games.

Malone won the league MVP again in 1981-82, but left as a free agent in the offseason, signing with the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Rockets plummeted in the standings, earning the No. 1 overall pick in the 1983 draft. Houston selected Virginia center Ralph Sampson with the top pick.

Sampson was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, but it didn’t help Houston’s team success, and the Rockets earned the No. 1 overall pick for the second straight season. Houston selected center Akeem Olajuwon out of the University of Houston, creating the “Twin Towers” lineup.

After a playoff season in Olajuwon’s rookie campaign, the Rockets won the Midwest Division in 1985-86, going on a playoff run that included upsetting the defending NBA champion Lakers in the Western Conference finals to advance to their second NBA Finals. Once again, they faced the Boston Celtics, and once again, they lost in the Finals in six games.

The promise of the Twin Towers was never truly fulfilled, as injuries and suspensions derailed the Rockets. Sampson was traded to the Golden State Warriors early in the 1987-88 season, leaving Olajuwon to try to lead Houston back to the Finals.

The 1987-88 campaign began a string of four straight first-round exits from the playoffs, followed by the team missing the postseason in 1991-92, with Tomjanovich replacing Don Chaney as head coach midway through the season. With a team that featured Olajuwon but also had players like Kenny Smith, Otis Thorpe, Mario Elie and Robert Horry, the Rockets returned to the postseason in 1992-93.

In 1993-94, Houston finished with a franchise-record 58-24 mark, with Olajuwon winning league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year honors. In the second round, the Rockets fell behind 2-0 to the defending Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns, leading some to call Houston “Choke City.” When the Rockets rallied to win the series in seven games, the moniker was changed to “Clutch City.”
Houston beat the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference finals to advance to the NBA Finals for the third time, facing the New York Knicks. Down 3-2 in the series, the Rockets rallied for two straight wins at home to win their first NBA title, with Olajuwon named the Finals MVP.

The team struggled at the start of the 1994-95 season, prompting the front office to trade Thorpe for perennial All-Star guard Clyde Drexler from Portland. The team rallied to make the playoffs with just a 47-35 record, earning the sixth seed in the West.

Houston went on a run that saw it defeat the top three seeds in the Western Conference to advance to the NBA Finals for a second straight season. The Rockets were underdogs to an Orlando Magic team that featured Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, but Houston swept the Magic to earn their second straight NBA title, with Olajuwon again being named Finals MVP.

The Rockets would never reach the same heights. Despite bringing on NBA legends like Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen over the next few years, Houston couldn’t get past the Western Conference playoffs, then completely missed the postseason for four straight seasons beginning in 1999-2000.

Olajuwon was traded to Toronto, and the team had the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, selecting 7-6 Yao Ming from China. Yao’s presence didn’t change the team’s fortunes, as it missed the playoffs again, and Tomjanovich was forced to resign when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer prior to the 2003-04 campaign.

The Rockets acquired Tracy McGrady to team with Yao, but playoff success was rare, with the team advancing to the second round in 2008-09 being the best finish of a decade. Houston general manager Daryl Morey completely revamped the team heading into the 2012-13 season, including acquiring guard James Harden in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden’s arrival brought a return to the postseason, with the team advancing to the Western Conference finals in 2014-15, falling to the Golden State Warriors in five games. Mike D’Antoni was named the team’s head coach prior to the 2016-17 season, and Houston made it to at least the conference semifinals three straight seasons, including an appearance in the Western finals in 2017-18, the team’s first season with Chris Paul on the team.

Following the 2018-19 season, the team traded Paul to Oklahoma City for guard Russell Westbrook.

The Houston Rockets have 13 former players and three former coaches in the Basketball Hall of Fame, including Malone, Tomjanovich (player and coach), Murphy, Hayes, Olajuwon and Yao.

Last Season

The Rockets looked to shake things up with the acquisition of Westbrook prior to the 2019-20 campaign, reuniting him with his former teammate, Harden. The duo had been part of Oklahoma City’s run to the 2012 NBA Finals.

The combination seemed to work, as Houston jumped to an 11-3 start.The team was still playing well, sitting 11 games above .500, when general manager Daryl Morey and coach Mike D’Antoni decided to go all-in on their small-ball experiment, trading starting center Clint Capela in an early February deal that left the team with only center Tyson Chandler as a big man.

Houston went with an all-small lineup and went on a run, winning 10 of their next 12 games. The Rockets were 40-24 when the NBA was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the Orlando bubble restart, Houston went 4-4 to head into the playoffs as the fourth seed in the Western Conference, setting up a first-round series with the Thunder. A back-and-forth series ended with a Rockets Game 7 victory, sealed by a blocked shot by Harden in the final seconds of the game.

In the next round, Houston got the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers and pulled an upset in Game 1 of the series behind Harden’s 36 points. It was the team’s last win of the season, as the Lakers swept the next four games to eliminate the Rockets.
After the season, Morey left to become the 76ers’ president of basketball operations, D’Antoni decided to move on, and the team dealt Westbrook to Washington for guard John Wall.

Head Coach

Stephen Silas has been in the NBA as a coach or scout since 2000, but he is getting his first head coaching gig with the Rockets for the 2020-21 season. Silas has been around the league all of his life, being the son of Hall of Fame player and coach Paul Silas.

The 47-year-old Silas was a player at Brown in the early 1990s, then joined his father as an assistant with the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets from 2000 to 2003 and Cleveland from 2003 to 2005. After a one-season stint with the Wizards as a scout, Silas was an assistant with Golden State, Charlotte and Dallas before getting the Houston job

Offseason Changes

Key Additions

John Wall, guard, Washington Wizards
DeMarcus Cousins, center, Los Angeles Lakers
Sterling Brown, guard, Milwaukee Bucks
Jerian Grant, guard, Washington Wizards
Christian Wood, forward, Detroit Pistons
Stephen Silas, coach

Key Subtractions

Russell Westbrook, guard, Washington Wizards
Jeff Green, forward, Brooklyn Nets
Austin Rivers, guard, New York Knicks
Mike D’Antoni, coach

Draft Picks

Mason Jones, guard, Arkansas
Kenyon Martin Jr., forward, IMG Academy

Team FAQ’s

Who is the Rockets all-time leading scorer?

Hakeem Olajuwon

Who is the Rockets winningest coach of all time?

Rudy Tomjanovich

What city did the Rockets start their franchise?

San Diego

How many NBA titles have the Rockets won in franchise history?

2

Who was the Rockets very first #1 pick in NBA Draft?

Elvin Hayes

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