So much has happened between Game 7 of the Western Conference finals last year, and 20 games into this season.
The 2017 Rockets were hot out the gates; it was Chris Paul’s first season with the team. The narrative around the country was that two ball dominant players couldn’t coincide. A franchise high 62 wins later, and a 7-game series with the heavy favorite Golden State Warriors proved otherwise. During the offseason Daryl Morey had waited patiently in his attempt to sign Carmelo Anthony, he waited for Oklahoma City to trade to Atlanta so that the Hawks could buy him out. When it was all said and done Carmelo was finally a Rocket.
The beginning of the season was a rough stretch as they were trying to figure out how to keep Carmelo happy while having him come off the bench. To Carmelo’s credit, he never complained and would do anything D’antoni asked of him as long as it would benefit the team. It was clear that Carmelo wasn’t going to fit when the offense was running stagnant, and the defense was falling at a rapid pace. None of which was Carmelo’s fault, it just wasn’t fair to Carmelo for him to try to figure out how to be in the mix while the Rockets were trying to figure themselves out. After announcing that Carmelo would miss a game due to illness, which eventually became Carmelo not playing for the team, Houston had gone on to win five games in a row, but have since fallen to a three-game losing streak.
This is not the franchise-win setting team it was last year, but this has been an upside-down season for the NBA overall. Houston is Currently seeded at 13 in the Western Conference with a 9-10 record, far from their #1 overall seed they had finished with last year. Several teams in the West are not even in the top 8 that were succeeding last year. Donavon Mitchell and the Utah Jazz, Anthony Davis and the Pelicans, Karl Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves, and even Demar DeRozan and the Spurs are all on the outside looking in, have the playoffs begin today. This Bizzaro-NBA also currently holds no other than the Los Angeles Clippers currently at the one seed with a 13-6 record.
Football season is still in action so the city hasn’t flipped over its team's lackluster start if in case you were, you shouldn’t be. Houston, although sitting in 13th place in the West, are only 4.5 games back from first, having plenty of time to get the issues corrected and placed where they truly belong. With Golden State having problems with Kevin Durant and Draymond Green butting heads, the time to strike is now.
It was just announced that Demarcus Cousins might suit up for the Warriors around Christmas according to Logan Murdock of The Mercury News. Cousins may just cause the NBA world to implode, or it may be another Carmelo situation and not be a great fit. Jeff Bzdelik returning to Houston as a defensive assistant will really help this team get back to form that had this team 1 game away from the Finals last year.