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Houston Rockets: 2016 Preview, Offseason/Draft Recap, Outlook

Houston Rockets 2016 NBA Season Preview

October 21, 2016

NBA Championship: 200/1 Over/under win total: 43.5 See the Latest Odds

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The Houston Rockets come into the 2016-17 campaign fresh off of what many would call a disappointing 2015-16 season that saw the team make the playoffs but barely at 41-41 to finish 8th. Reason for disappointment being with all the talent on the team, you would think Houston would’ve finished higher, with this season’s main focus being proving that Houston belongs with the elite in the West.

Here is your 2016 Houston Rockets preview.

Houston Rockets: 2016 Preview, Offseason/Draft Recap, Outlook

USA TODAY Sports

Key Additions: The biggest addition for Houston overall has to be the re-signing of all-star guard James Harden, who re-upped with the Rockets for 4 years at $118 million.  Harden appeared in and started all 82 regular season games for the Rockets, averaging career-highs with 29.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game while shooting just under 44% from the field. Outside of last year’s squad, the Rockets made a big splash by signing a pair of former New Orleans Pelicans in guard Eric Gordon to a 4-year, $53 million deal and inking Ryan Anderson to a 4-year deal of his own worth $80 million.

Key Losses: The biggest difference from last year’s Houston team to this one will be the departure of former all-star center Dwight Howard, who went home, signing with the Atlanta Hawks. Howard’s scoring decreased each year that he was in Houston, falling from 18.3 points in 2013-14 to 13.7 last season. Ironically last season was also Howard’s best season shooting from the field, as he converted on 62% of his field goal attempts. Also leaving Houston is veteran guard Jason Terry who signed with the Milwaukee Bucks and forward Josh Smith who has yet to be picked up by a team after declaring for free agency.

Breaking Down the Draft: Houston didn’t have a 1st-round pick in the 2016 NBA draft as it was dealt to Denver as part of the Ty Lawson to Houston trade from the season prior. The move is somewhat scrutinized now as the Rockets had a decent pick that they gave away for a player who didn’t even last a full season before being bought out by the team. Houston did use their first selection in the 2nd round to select Chinanu Onuaku out of Louisville. Onuaku is best known for channeling his inner Rick Barry, being the first player in years to shoot his free throws underhanded, however it seems to work as Onuaku has dramatically improved his free throw percentage since making the switch.

Outlook: It will be a test for new head coach Mike D’Antoni in his first go around with the Rockets. However D’Antoni’s famous 8 seconds or less offense will work perfectly with guard James Harden, who took the most shot attempts in the league last season, hoisting up over 1700 shots. Given the fact that Harden acts as the team’s point guard often enough, you have to wonder how many touches other guys on the team will get, even if Harden averaged a career-high in assists last season. Do I think the Rockets will make the playoffs? Probably. Have they done enough to improve their standing? I’m not so sure.

Projected record: 43-39

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