The thick of August, also known as the doldrums of the NBA calendar, is here. Players are posting workout videos on Instagram. Every big man is draining 3’s off the dribble with no defense in an open gym (I’m looking at you, Andre Drummond).
With that being said, the NBA next season has a lot to look forward to. Lots of teams made radical and/or key roster changes. Stars changing teams have made basketball junkies feel the withdrawal of no NBA basketball even more.
With several interesting teams around the association, it was tough to whittle this list down to just ten. The criteria for making this is neither rooted in statistics nor any other objective measurement. The rankings are purely subjective, like most top tens. These are the teams I find most interesting for whatever reasons they may be.
Without further to do, let’s dive into it:
10. Houston Rockets
Notable Additions: Carmelo Anthony, De’Anthony Melton, James Ennis, Michael Carter-Williams
Notable Subtractions: Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute
Losing Ariza and Mbah a Moute hurts. The Rockets were 6th in defensive efficiency last season allowing just 103.8 points per 100 possessions. In the regular season, the Rockets’ defense actually allowed 1.2 points per 100 possessions fewer with Ariza off the court compared to him on. However, in the playoffs, the Rockets allowed a solid 105.1 point per 100 possessions with Ariza on compared to a paltry 116.6 points per 100 possessions when he sat.
For Mbah a Moute, the Rockets were 4 points better defensively per 100 possessions with him on versus him off. His playoff on/off numbers are quite awful, but he was coming off a separated shoulder that he suffered late in the season.
Moreover, the Rockets did not replace them with any ‘3-and-D’ wing as of now. The only player who resembles that on their roster is PJ Tucker and possibly Eric Gordon. If Melton proves to be a solid backup especially defensively, the Rockets’ best bet might be to start Gordon, their usual 6th man. Carmelo will hurt their defense, but he could be a decent enough spot-up shooter and scorer against bench lineups.
Mostly, the Rockets are interesting to see how they compensate for these defensive losses. Also, it would not be shocking if Clint Capela takes his game to another level. The young big is still only 24-years-old and has significantly improved every season. Chris Paul will turn 34 years old next season and had several injuries last season. This Rockets team could still be very formidable, but also might take a significant step back from title contention.
Next Up: Team 9