Its too soon yet to schedule the parade. Moreso than the 127 minute sample size, the real issue is that much of this comes against a cream puff schedule. But a few more weeks of this and I think we’re onto something directly indicative of what to expect from this team over an 82 game season.
As I said earlier in the week, this right now just has the early feel of the 2017-2018 team, which of course was one of the best teams in the NBA of the last decade. I don’t quite recall at what point that team’s dominance became completely evident.
The big catalyst here is Danuel House Jr. whose insertion into the lineup jump-started the Rockets’ climb in the standings. Replace House in that quintet with Gordon (Houston’s opening day starting lineup) and you’re looking at one of the worst net ratings in the league. I’ve been writing for the past year or so that House’s ability to space the floor, hit 3’s at a premium clip, attack the basket in transition, and rebound make him basically the ideal (realistic, non-star) wing counterpart for James Harden. He’s been a god-send. And this probably would not have been possible had he not wet the bed last summer against Golden State, deflating his market value.
I had a simplistic thought: an adage of which I am the originator is that your floor with a healthy and happy James Harden is 50 wins. The one year he had another healthy All-Star next to him in Chris Paul, he won 65 games. Maybe none of these components matter i.e. who it is? Maybe its the case that if you just surround James Harden with actual complementary talent, you get to 60? He won 56 games back in 2015 with Donatas Motiejunas as the second best player on the team, 55 games in 2017 with Eric Gordon as his #2, and then 53 games last year when he played a large segment of the season next to random guys off the street.
Another thought: Eric Gordon is likely expendable next season once he’s trade eligible. Its an idea I’ll explore in an upcoming piece for Forbes. But this rotation’s current production begs the question of whether the resources used on Gordon’s salary could be better allocated somewhere else on the roster.