The amazing race to dethrone the Golden State Warriors has already begun, Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets made the first earth-rattling move deciding to partake in a trade to acquire all-star point guard Chris Paul. This eight-player package includes sending Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker and a 2018 first-round pick to the Clippers in exchange for Paul. This trade seems to make sense on paper, shipping a couple of role players and a late first round pick in exchange for a top tier point guard sounds like an obvious win for the Rockets; but there are still lingering questions in regards to this deal.
Why it will work
“There’s only one ball!” The saying has been buried into the ground over the years in regards to combining ball dominant all-star caliber players. The chemistry issues that Chris Paul and Blake Griffin had with the Clippers should lie heavily on the shoulders of head coach Doc Rivers, his inability to stagger the minutes of these two all-stars is what led to their eventual demise year after year. With Harden and Paul being two of the most ball-dominant guards in the league, the question arises, how will these two co-exist if Blake Griffin and Chris Paul couldn’t with the Clippers? The answer is simple, Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni’s system preaches pace and space, combine that with his ability to stagger minutes and this seems like a match made in heaven for Chris Paul.
This should all feel like a dream to Mike D’Antoni, having Paul and Harden who can both get any shot they want off the dribble, while still being able to knock down spot-up threes. These were the two players stats on catch-and-shoot threes this past season per NBA.com
Chris Paul- 49.3% on catch-and-shoot threes
James Harden- 39.1% on catch-and-shoot threes
Surrounding those two players with knockdown shooters like Trevor Ariza, Eric Gordon, and Ryan Anderson has got to have Mike D’Antoni ready to take 60 threes a game next year. The big question for this move isn’t will it work? The question is how fast is it going to take to have that San Antonio Spurs esque cohesion, those four or five pass possessions that lead to open threes are already playing on a loop in D’Antoni’s head.
Why it won’t work
This trade makes the Rockets a borderline super team. The ’96 Rockets, ’04 Lakers, ’09 Celtics and ’11 Miami Heat are some of the most notable super teams in the last 20 years and they all failed to win the Championship that year. It usually takes a year for a team filled with all-stars to have the type of chemistry it takes to win the NBA Finals; the 2017 Warriors are the lone exception when it comes to first-year super teams. With the current construction of the roster that the Rockets have, I see no chemistry issues lingering, but they’re still looking to add another all-star; that is where I can see team chemistry becoming an issue.
There is still one glaring negative I see on Houston’s side of this deal, losing Patrick Beverly who not only was he there best defender, but Beverly was also the heart and soul of the team. Chris Paul is no scrub defensively, although he isn’t what he used to be athletically, he was still 1st team all-defense this year.
Will this be the year for Chris Paul? This could be a legacy-defining moment for Chris Paul… He’s finally got a team that gives him a real chance to make a deep playoff run, but does this signing mean they can beat the Warriors? No, but it puts them that much closer. With rumors circling around the Rockets that include Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, it’s safe to say Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets aren’t satisfied with being able to compete with the Warriors; they want to dethrone them.
Written by: Tyler Vernor