Rockets kick off new season with high hopes

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Photo by: TNS

Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) blocks a shot against Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green (23) during the first quarter of Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference finals on Monday, May 25, 2015, at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group/TNS) Photo courtesy of MCT Campus.

Story by: Trevien Thomas, Sports Correspondent

The last time we saw the Rockets was in Oracle Arena, where they fell to the eventual champion Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. The Rockets had the talent to get to this point, but it was rather a surprise to see them there in the tough Western Conference.

Now, a year later, getting to that point and further is an expectation. The Conference has gotten stronger as a whole, but so have the Rockets. They lost swingman Josh Smith to free agency, but were able to add point guard Ty Lawson to the team despite numerous off-court issues along with Marcus Thornton who is a proven scorer off the bench.

The team also drafted NCAA stars Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell. Dekker is a versatile forward who really plays above the rim and defends well. Harrell is an energetic forward who moves well and is also known for playing above the rim. These two should play valuable minutes throughout the season and should provide legitimate depth to an already deep team. Resigning Patrick Beverly, KJ McDaniels and Corey Brewer was big as two of the three are veterans with big playoff experience and McDaniels is an athletic wing that really fits the Rockets Up-tempo style of play.

The Rockets definitely weren’t the only team in the Western conference that got stronger this summer. The Spurs added LaMarcus Aldridge and David West. Kevin Durant is coming back from a foot injury which should help keep the Oklahoma City Thunder on the top of the pecking order in the West. The Clippers added Smith and Paul Pierce to an already deep team. If the Rockets want to bring home a championship this year, they will really have to earn it.

The Rockets have assembled a team that can compete with any team in the league, and they may just be led by the league’s best player. James Harden leads the team going to the 2015 season looking to finally claim an elusive MVP trophy. He’s talked all summer about how he felt he should’ve won the award and how he is out to prove himself this season. The last time we saw him was in the playoffs, where he ended the elimination game 6 with an abysmal NBA playoff record 13 turnovers.

Harden is not the only star on this team. Dwight Howard came to Houston in 2012 looking to play a big role for the Rockets. In the time he has played he’s been a force, but he’s struggled with many injuries that have thrown off the rhythm and play of the team. If everything comes together, there’s no reason that this team can’t compete for the championship.

The front office has compiled a great team and a legitimate “Big 3” of James Harden, Dwight Howard and Ty Lawson that rival any 3 on any team in the league. It is truly a championship or bust year in Houston. The drive for a championship starts Wednesday, Oct. 28, against the Denver Nuggets.