I had started writing this like a month ago and then decided I didn’t feel like finishing it and haven’t written anything since. But Kevin Pelton’s latest projections at ESPN.com, which have the Rockets finishing first in the West next season, reminded me that I had wanted to finish this particular post.
The reader raises an interesting point which I plan to address. But first, the matter of season predictions where we’ve, in recent weeks, seen betting and statistical models almost across the board hold the Rockets in very high regard while conventional wisdom has sort of treated them as an afterthought in the euphoria over the imminent relevance of both L.A. teams. Its interesting to me because Houston finishing first in the West should not really be a hot take. I personally have serious questions and concerns over what they can accomplish in the postseason but I’m expecting a pretty dominant regular season output. Really, the main barrier to 2017-2018’s glorious ceiling is the ridiculous parity out West. But the Rockets have depth, the return of their core components (with just Paul swapped out for Westbrook, of course), and most importantly, the expected health and availability of both superstars. None of the other contenders in the West can say the same.[continue reading…]