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Hardcore Analysis

Quick Takes On The Rockets And Pelicans

James Harden and the Rockets will have to deal with a very motivated Anthony Davis

HOUSTON ROCKETS

Much was made out of the Rockets losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah A Moute during the offseason and how their defense will suffer. But as coach Mike D’Antoni recently pointed out, Mbah A Moute missed most of the playoffs and the Rockets weren’t hurt defensively by his absence. As for Ariza, who can forget his 0-for-12, zero point performance in the Rockets’ Game 7 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

In Houston’s other three losses in that series, Ariza shot 11-for-32 (34%) from the floor and 3-of-16 (18%) from three point range.As for the Rockets’ big offseason addition, I think Carmelo Anthony will be more productive than he was last season in Oklahoma City, as he will benefit greatly from playing with two great playmakers in Chris Paul and James Harden. And I believe Melo’s presence will make Paul and Harden’s jobs easier, since Ariza really turned into a one-dimensional offensive player who just camped out at the three-point arc.

I don’t have as much confidence in two other additions in James Ennis and Michael Carter-Williams. Ennis is entering his fifth season, but has played just 58 games. Carter-Wiiliams, a former 2013 lottery pick has basically been a bust and his skill set doesn’t fit the Rockets’ three-point dominant offense. He’s a career 25 percent shooter from beyond the arc and has shot only 40 percent from the field overall.

 

 

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
One of the big questions that face the Pelicans, is how much will they miss Rajon Rondo. As a reminder of how good he was in the playoffs last season, Rondo totally outplayed Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in New Orleans’ first round sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers, averaging 11.3 points, 13.3 points and 7.5 assists. And although the Pelicans were no match for the Warriors, Rondo was still impressive and had one game where he racked up 21 assists. A lot of pressure will be on Rondo’s successor, Elfrid Payton, who is now with his third team in five seasons.

The most prominent new addition is Julius Randle. The former seventh overall pick of the Lakers in 2014, signed a two year contract with the Pelicans. He’s a very skilled player, but too often is out of control and sloppy taking care of the ball. He also has trouble finishing around the rim with his right hand which leads to forced shots or turnovers. He played on a Lakers team that had no playoff expectations, so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the situation in New Orleans, where there will much more pressure to win.

Of course, what the Pelicans do have going for them is MVP candidate Anthony Davis. The talented big man has set his sights on the award and from what we saw from Davis after DeMarcus Cousins went down last season, he should be a major contender. Along with Davis, Jrue Holiday also stepped up his game in a big way after losing Cousins. It’s not far fetched to say Davis will be better than James Harden this season and Holiday will outplay Chris Paul.

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