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NBA Daily: Rockets and Warriors Appear To Be On Collision Course

Can the Warriors be stopped? We might get an idea during the first week of January.

Moke Hamilton



Well, it certainly didn’t take Stephen Curry too long to come back to form, did it?

The two-time Most Valuable Player missed 10 games after suffering a severely sprained ankle in the team’s 125-115 win over the New Orleans Pelicans back on December 4.

Behind Kevin Durant’s 28.8 points per game, the Warriors went 8-2 without Curry.

Truth be told, the Warriors have been so dominant that a great many are wondering whether the team would be able to win the championship even without either Durant or Curry. Combined, the duo is nearly unstoppable, just as they were on Saturday night when Curry returned from his absence.

In just 26 minutes of action, Curry led all scorers with 38 points and shot 10-for-13 from three-point territory.

Sometimes, it’s fair to wonder whether the rest of the league has any chance at all against the mighty Dubs.

* * * * * *

Entering play on December 31, despite the early-season heroics of the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets, it is the Warriors who, at 29-8, have the league’s best record. They lead the league in points per game, rank second in points per 100 possessions and fifth in points allowed per 100 possessions. With the emergence of rookie Jordan Bell and the seamless integration of newcomers Omri Casspi and Nick Young, the Warriors have had 12 different players average at least 13 minutes per game for them this season.

In short, they’re deeper than they’ve been and they’re more talented than we remember.

If there’s one team that doesn’t care, though, it’s probably the Houston Rockets, despite the season-long five-game losing streak on which the team currently finds itself.

General manager Daryl Morey went on record as saying that the Rockets’ primary concern and objective is toppling the Warriors. The San Antonio Spurs will certainly turn those comments into bulletin board material, but it’s safe to say that the Rockets are certainly a team that the Warriors should be thinking about.

To this point in the season, James Harden is the hands-down MVP, and he’s become that by continuing to be the basketball equivalent of a defensive wrecking ball. Harden shares something in common with Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant in that he routinely attempts to and successfully beats four to five defenders on a single play. With Chris Paul at his side, though, the Rockets possess the necessary ball handling and smart instincts to beat players off the dribble and make good decisions with the basketball.

The Rockets are one of the few teams to beat the Warriors this season, and with the two teams set to renew their acquaintance on January 4, it becomes a game that’s as close to “must see” television at this stage of the season as there is.

Entering play on December 31, the Rockets are the only team in the league that outranks the Warriors in points per 100 possessions and ranks second to the Warriors in points per game. They’re a distant 10th in points allowed per 100 possessions, meaning that a contest featuring the two teams may very well come down to the Rockets’ ability to simply outscore the Warriors over the course of a 48-minute contest.

With respect to the Rockets’ current losing streak, the question that must be answered is whether the team is closer to the one that went 25-4 through its first 29 games of the season, or the one that folded like a cheap suit in Boston on Thursday night and squandered a 26-point lead en route to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

We’ll probably find out a little more about the Rockets and whether or not they are truly the peers of the Warriors during the first week of January.

* * * * * *

As the Warriors and Rockets appear by many to be on a collision course in the Western Conference, the irony is hard to ignore. For as long as we can remember, and partially because of Mike D’Antoni, we were sold on the idea that “finesse” teams and “jump shooting” teams wouldn’t be able to win at the highest levels.

When teams across the league began employing offenses that shared characteristics with offenses run by D’Antoni, the old theory has been turned on its head to the point where we are now seeing teams go out of their way to abandon more traditional inside-out offenses and plodding post-up centers.

Winning basketball always has been and always will be about the intersection of talented players, a system that maximizes them and a coach that can make it all work.

What makes the Rockets and Warriors unique is that each of them seem to have found the formula. Each of the teams feature legendary players on the perimeter and have made NBA history in one way or another.

They appear to be on a collision course, yes, and in short order, the NBA’s viewing public will be privy to a preview.

When Curry made his return from his 10-game absence, he nailed one three-pointer for each game that he missed. In the back of his mind, he probably thought he needed to be sharp for the Rockets.

He was probably correct.


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Looking For A Few Great Voices!

From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

Basketball Insiders



From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

We are considering adding new voices for the 2020-21 NBA Season, and what we are looking for is very specific.

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#17 – Aleksej Pokusevski – Oklahoma City Thunder

David Yapkowitz



With the 17th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Aleksej Pokusevski from Serbia. The Thunder completed a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire the pick.

Pokusevski is a long term project, but one that has has an intriguing skillset. A 7-footer with good speed and quickness, Pokusevski plays like a wing and can pass like a guard. But, to truly thrive at the next level, Pokusevski will need to put on some serious weight.

Again, he’s a project. But Pokusevski’s ceiling is sky-high. And, with a rebuild ahead of them, the Thunder have more than enough time to work with him and ensure he reaches it.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler



What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:


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