A couple days ago, James Harden claimed that his Houston Rockets will have the same chance to take down the Golden State Warriors in the upcoming season.
Even though the Warriors added All-NBA center DeMarcus Cousins and the Rockets lost starter Trevor Ariza as well as key defender Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency, Harden isn’t worried.
"Nothing changes," he said, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. "The West is already a beast. The Lakers got better, but they are still in that conference with the Warriors, still in that division. No matter how you look at it, you still have to go through some beasts.”
"We all know what the Warriors bring,” he added. “Obviously, DeMarcus Cousins is very skilled and talented. But they are still the Warriors – they have won three out of four championships. We are right there. Clearly, last year showed we are right there, and we will be right there this year as well."
While it’s important for the league MVP to exhibit confidence, it’s also important to be realistic. Cousins should be a massive upgrade if he returns anywhere close to 100 percent and would likely make up the best starting five the NBA has ever seen.
Re-signing Gerald Green, adding Michael Carter-Williams and James Ennis in free agency and drafting guard De’Anthony Melton seemingly won’t make much of a difference and presumably won’t be an improvement over Ariza and Mbah a Moute.
However, offensive mastermind Mike D’Antoni believes that he can get the most out of Ennis and Melton in particular.
“I think James Ennis can be really good. I think people are downplaying him. Gerald Green will take another step forward. The De’Anthony Melton kid looked really good… If we’re going to beat Golden State…you gotta take some chances…I think the worst we’re going to be is great,” D’Antoni said, per Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston.
Overall, D’Antoni still believes that his team can take down Golden State.
“It’s tough. I think James Harden put it best. It didn’t change anything. It was tough before. It’s tough now. I don’t think anybody’s jumped over anybody. Golden State looked invincible a couple years ago, even last year. They’re not invincible," he claimed.
Only time will tell, but the Cousins addition as well as a stacked rest of the Western Conference could lead to disappointment for the MVP and his coach.