2017 NBA Draft preview: Houston Rockets

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Houston Rockets guard James Harden, center, is congratulated after drawing a foul, by guard Patrick Beverley, left, and guard Eric Gordon during the second half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

NBA.com draft preview by Fran Blinebury

2017 Draft picks: 43, 45
2016-17 record: 55-27, second place in the Southwest division, lost in the conference semifinals to SAS

Areas of Strength

How do you make a player who is already an unstoppable force of nature and make him more productive? If you’re coach Mike D’Antoni, you put the ball in James Harden’s hands full-time and tell him he’s the point guard. The Beard is the sun in the middle of the Rockets’ solar, making all of the offense revolve around him. That means 30 points a night from him and lots of wide open three’s for Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams.

Needs Work

It’s always going to be difficult with Harden at the center of everything and his attention span tending to wander. But if the Rockets are ever going to live up to their own hype as true contenders, they have to play defense every night, not just when the mood happens to strike them.      

Two Stats That Matter

40.3 — That’s the eye-popping number of three-point shots that the Rockets take on average every time they lace up their sneakers. The additions of Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams to go with Harden will push the limits of what is possible.

25.2 — Mostly because of Harden’s excellent instincts and passing, the Rockets ranked third-best in the NBA at assists per game. When the ball moves, they’re tough to beat.

2016-17 Team Stats (points per 100 possessions, with NBA rank)

Offensive: 111.8 (2nd)

Defensive:  106.4 (18th)

Under Contract 

G: Patrick Beverley

G: Eric Gordon

G: James Harden

G: Isaiah Taylor

G: Lou Williams

F:Ryan Anderson

F: Trevor Ariza

F: Sam Dekker

F: Montrezl Harrell

F: Troy Williams

F: Kyle Wiltjer

F/C: Chinanu Onuaku

C: Clint Capela

Free Agents

G:Bobby Brown (restricted)

F/C: Nene (unrestricted)

Recent Draft History

2016: Chinanu Onuaku (37); Zhou Qi (43)
2015: Sam Dekker (18); Montrezl Harrell (32)
2014: Clint Capela (25); Nick Johnson (42)
2013: Isaiah Canaan (34)
2012: Jeremy Lamb (12), Royce White (16), Terrence Jones (18)

 



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