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Western Conference assistant claims Rockets aren’t better than Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, Nuggets

Rockets

The Houston Rockets made a big splash this summer by acquiring former MVP Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

With Westbrook in the fold, the Rockets are now the only team in the NBA with two MVPs on the roster in Westbrook and James Harden.

Houston general manager Daryl Morey thinks the Rockets should be the favorites to win the Western Conference this upcoming season. One Western Conference assistant, however, doesn’t agree with Morey at all.

“The rest of the West is better than it was last year, that’s the big problem,” one Western Conference assistant said told Sean Deveney of Heavy. “They’re not better than the Lakers or Clippers. They’re not better than Utah or Denver. They’re maybe better than Portland. Who knows how he Warriors will look? So you’re looking at a No. 6 seed, maybe No. 5 at best or seven-eight at worst.”

The Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George; the Lakers acquired Anthony Davis, giving LeBron James the second star he needs to contend for a championship; the Jazz acquired Mike Conley from the Memphis Grizzlies; the Nuggets are counting on Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris to take the next step.

So, the West is going to be a bloodbath next season and the Rockets have to be fixated on beating everyone, not just the Golden State Warriors anymore — who will still be really good despite losing Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson to an ACL injury which will sideline him for a big chunk of the season.

Westbrook and Harden will be eager to shut all their critics up. Because both superstars are ball-dominant players, adjustments are going to have to be made for the Rockets’ offense to run efficiently.

Houston would be wise to make Westbrook the full-time point guard and Harden the full-time shooting guard. Westbrook is more explosive than Harden and can break defenses down by attacking the basket with his elite speed, which will free up Harden for wide-open looks from the perimeter.