The Houston Rockets are, until someone else snatches this title away, the team with the best chance of knocking off the Golden State Warriors. Houston came awfully close to getting the job done this past postseason before Chris Paul was betrayed by his hamstring, and now, all eyes are on whether the Rockets can keep their backcourt healthy and topple the two-time defending champions in a seven-game series.
If there is a concern, it’s that Houston’s roster last year was built with the goal of making life hell on the perimeter for Golden State, namely because it had a pair of versatile wings in Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute who could switch defensively when the Warriors wanted to try and shred them on the perimeter. Now, both guys are gone, and their perceived replacements are James Ennis (not much of a shooter) and Carmelo Anthony (not the most fleet of foot defender). Michael Carter-Williams is also in town now, but in addition to his well-documented woes as a shooter, he’s never been known as a wing defender despite standing at 6’6.
On the most recent edition of The Lowe Post podcast, Zach Lowe of ESPN and Chris Herring of FiveThirtyEight discussed this issue. Here’s what Lowe had to say about what is currently in town.
They’re trying to beat one team, and Ariza and [P.J.] Tucker and Mbah a Moute gave them the grit and the switchability to have a shot at defending that team. Now you’ve only got to defend them well enough to win four games, and your offense is so good that you only maybe have to defend them actually well, by the numbers, twice. They almost did it, it almost happened, and they’ve lost a lot of that identity in those guys going out the door. Ennis’ ability to duplicate it is TBD, Melo cannot do what they did — you cannot say “Melo, switch from Klay to KD to Steph,” no, it’s not gonna happen. You’ll be dead, he will get ankles, his ankles, what is left of them broken.
This means Houston — which is as active of a team as the league has when it comes to tweaking its roster — might be interested in kicking the tires on a number of potential options. What might be the best options, and what would it look like if the Rockets called up every team and tried to work out a deal for someone? We dove into the options, and surprisingly, it might be hard for Daryl Morey to bolster his rotation without some savvy maneuvering.