The Houston Rockets have been on fire at the start of the 2017-18 season. After a 117-113 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night, Houston moved to 9-3 on the season, which puts them in a tie atop the Western Conference with the Golden State Warriors. James Harden looks like an MVP candidate, the team’s offense is humming along, and their somewhat-maligned defense is actually in the top half of the league in efficiency.
The Rockets are managing to do all of this without Chris Paul, who has only played in one game this year after suffering a knee injury during the team’s season opener. Having a player the caliber of Harden and a system that takes advantage of the team’s bevy of three point shooters helps, but Paul is still a superstar who was expected to help give Houston potentially the best backcourt in the NBA.
But the good news is Paul should be back soon. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni gave an optimistic update about his timetable after Thursday night’s game.
With how well the Rockets have been playing, there might be some (potentially warranted) skepticism about how adding Paul will impact the team. Taking the ball out of Harden’s hands is generally not a great idea, and having two point guards on the floor will be a new dynamic.
Still, getting a player of Paul’s caliber back is always going to be a net positive. And if it takes some time for he and Harden to gel, no worries, Houston’s built up a bit of a cushion at the top of the west.