Chris Broussard and Doug Gottlieb predict the Houston Rockets’ season

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Chris Broussard and Doug Gottlieb discuss the Houston Rockets and whether they've gotten better or worse this offseason.

- Everybody's talking like the Rockets have fallen off. Everybody's talking like, oh, they'll do what they did last year and, you know, be great in the regular season. They were great in the playoffs. Do we forget that they were up 3-2 on the Golden State Warriors who everybody thinks is unbeatable, including LeBron James thinks they're unbeatable, at least right now, until Chris Paul went down.

I mean, you're second best player, a Hall of Famer, one of the greatest point guards ever, goes down or maybe you are in the finals and win the NBA championship. So one thing we've learned about James Harden and Mike D'Antoni, they will win regular season games. Harden by himself, if Chris Paul wasn't there, they're going to win over 50, probably 55.

With Chris there, they can win, you know, many more than that if they really push it. Mike D'Antoni, his system, they will win games. He has the players to fit into it.

I think Carmelo Anthony-- look, I'm not I'm not going to say he's what he was seven years ago and he's going to be superb there. I think there will be times at the end of games where he's not even on the floor, and James Ennis will be there for defense or whatever, but he does give them more play in the mid-range along with Chris Paul that answers some of their deficiencies. If they're smart, they looked at Golden State and said, you know what, maybe we've taken the analytics a little too far and all we want to do is shoot threes and dunk.

Whereas Golden State shoots threes, has great mid-range play, great, you know, movement, and they get back-door layups. Now with Chris Paul and Melo, you got two really good mid-range players so you don't have to go 0 for 27 from three. Stops shooting threes and take some 19 footers if that's the case.

DOUG GOTTLIEB: Well, OK. There's a couple of things. First, do you think they're better or worse roster wise when you lose--

- From last year.

DOUG GOTTLIEB: --Mbah a Moute, you lose Trevor Ariza, and you add Carmelo Anthony at this point in his career?

CHRIS BROUSSARD: I like last year's roster better. I will give you that. And they're going to miss Ariza and Mbah a Moute. I think James Ennis can fill in a little bit of that defensively.


- I think Gerald Green--


- --who will play more can fill in a little bit from the three-point line. So I'm with you on the roster being more preferable last year, but I don't think it declined to the point that they're not clearly the second best team in the league, not just the West.

- No question. I mean, look, people do misremember, they just forget the fact that the Rockets were a dominant team in the regular season, the fact that the Rockets were up three games to two. We also forget that Andre Iguodala didn't play at the end of that series, and now the Warriors, we think, will have gotten better if they add DeMarcus Cousins. Look, the Melo thing makes it fascinating.

He and Mike D'Antoni did not get along. Mike D'Antoni wants ball movers. He's a ball stopper. It did not get along. And you bring another scorer in to a team that has two other dominant scorers.

And it didn't work last year in Oklahoma City, what makes you think it worked this year in Houston, especially when Houston had proven many of the skeptics, myself included, wrong that they could not and would not guard anybody at the end of playoff games. That was the difference in the Rockets. It wasn't necessarily Chris Paul in offense. It was that Chris Paul had a toughness on defense.

Trevor Ariza, PJ Tucker, Clint Capela, and they could all hide with James Harden or he would pressure the ball, you'd go by and they'd have shot blockers everywhere, and they'd rotate. So they had proven so many of us wrong because they had evolved into this defensive tough juggernaut that could switch and funnel you to Clint Capela. And now you've got another guy who can't guard anybody on that roster, likely in their first five, in their finishing five?

Look, I think they will be one of the two or three elite teams in the NBA. But I do think that they also got worse, whereas I believe the Warriors have gotten better. I think the Warriors bench was their weakness, and, of course, their starting center was weak. And if DeMarcus Cousins is 80-85% of what he was before he got hurt, I think the Warriors have gotten better and the Rockets have gotten worse.