Rockets 2019-20 Season Win Total: How Far Can the Westbrook-Harden Duo Go?
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook (0) and guard James Harden (13).
- Prior to the 2019-20 NBA season, Matt Moore (@HPBasketball) analyzes each team's win total odds.
- Below, Matt provides a case for the over and under + gives his confidence rating for the Houston Rockets' win total this year.
All odds as of Thursday. Check out PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).
Houston Rockets Win Total
The Case for the Over (52.5, DraftKings)
Look, I can walk you through the Russell Westbrook-James Harden dynamic and how it can work. I can talk about a renewed sense of focus from the team.
I can give you the soft post-All-Star break strength of schedule (22nd) or how they have only two true rest-disadvantage games until January. I can run you through the 21-7 record against the East or their 10-6 record in division or their historic offense the past two seasons.
But this is really what you need to know: Since Harden and Mike D’Antoni began together, they have won 55, 65 and 53 games, and that last figure includes last season, which started off in nightmarish fashion and was further compromised by injuries to Chris Paul and Clint Capela.
To convince me they’ll win fewer than 55, you have to set up a position where a former MVP winner in Westbrook, embarrassed by what’s happened the last few years and playing next to a close friend in Harden, will cause their downfall almost single-handedly.
The rest of the Rockets are all well-suited and comfortable in the system. The defense may be poor, but it was poor last season — and, again, 53 wins.
The Case for the Under (54.5, Westgate)
This only happens if Westbrook screws it up. That’s pretty much it. The defense will be shaky — that’s predictable — but that hasn’t stopped them before.
But if Westbrook messes with the formula, if he’s a wrench in the works, there’s no real alternative. They can’t pull the plug and send him elsewhere with that contract. This has to work.
Bear in mind the Thunder’s Offensive Rating as a Westbrook-led team has been, by and large, mediocre since Kevin Durant departed. He’s got a lot of miles and a lot of surgeries on his knees.
I can’t find any other paradigm, barring the same injury concerns that exist for every team in the league, where they go under. Westbrook also doesn’t have to screw it up much, though.
Their ceiling is probably close to 60, their average closer to 57 and if Westbrook just causes a little slippage, just a tiny deviation, that can land them at 53 and the under depending on what number you get.
- The pick: Over 52.5
- Confidence: 7 out of 10
In the preseason, the Rockets are playing faster, something D’Antoni stressed at media day. This matters. The best way to adapt to Westbrook is to pick up the pace.
The Rockets had their year from hell; it was last year and they still won 53. There’s enough clearance here. Houston’s still got better continuity and health going into the regular season than some of its Western competitors. Trust the Beard, trust D’Antoni, ride the over to glory.