The Houston Rockets had one of the best decades of any franchise in the 2010s. From Western Conference Finals appearances to MVP-worthy seasons, there was never a shortage of excitement in Houston. Though the Rockets fell short of an NBA championship, the 2010s will always be remembered as some of the best years in the teams’ history.
Houston Rockets All-Decade Team for the 2010s
Guard: James Harden
Normally, the first guard position would go to the point guard. In this case, though, it would be criminal not to list James Harden first. It’s no stretch to call Harden the best guard in Rockets history, let alone for the 2010s. If not for some guy named Hakeem Olajuwon, there wouldn’t be much of a case against Harden for the best player in franchise history.
It’s impossible to understate the phenomenal decade Harden had. Though he receives plenty of criticism for his style of play, the results are irrefutable. His plethora of 40, 50, and even 60-point outings paired with an MVP award and a handful of near-misses for the trophy put Harden into an elite category. If not for the Golden State Warriors dynasty, Harden’s Rockets likely would have notched at least one NBA title before the end of the decade.
Guard: Chris Paul
Perhaps no other player had the type of impact Chris Paul had on the Houston Rockets. Though Harden obviously carried the load, the addition of Paul turned the team into legitimate title contenders. He completely transformed the squad into one of the single best teams of the 2010s seemingly overnight.
Unfortunately, Paul’s tenure with the Rockets will be remembered for one playoff series. The Rockets were up 3-2 on the Warriors in the 2018 Western Conference Finals. Then, Paul suffered a hamstring injury. The Warriors ended up coming back, winning back-to-back games in Paul’s absence and went on to win their third NBA Finals in four years. If not for the injury, basketball history could be drastically different.
Forward: Trevor Ariza
Before Paul arrived and turned the Rockets into title contenders, Trevor Ariza re-shaped the Houston Rockets. Prior to his arrival in 2014, no one took the Rockets seriously. His addition truly vaulted the team onto the national stage as he and Harden led the Rockets to the Western Conference Finals in 2015.
Ariza remained one of the most consistent pieces during Houston’s relative dominance from 2014 until his final season in 2018. Once he was gone, the team just didn’t feel the same. They were never truly able to fill the hole he left behind.
Forward: Luis Scola
Before there was Harden, there was Luis Scola. Scola had the tall task of bridging the Rockets from the Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming era into the unknown future. When the Rockets needed a hero, he stepped up and filled the shoes.
Scola may have never been an all-world talent, but his contributions to Houston will always be remembered. In 2011, he helped lead the Rockets to a 43-39 record, scoring 18 points and grabbing nearly 9 rebounds per game along the way. Thanks in part to Scola, the Rockets never fell to bottom-feeders in the league, and almost immediately turned themselves back into title contenders once his work was finished.
Center: Dwight Howard
Center was the toughest position to nail down for the Houston Rockets. Ultimately, Dwight Howard earned the starting nod. Howard has had an interesting career, to say the least, but he was still “Superman” during the first half of his tenure with the Rockets. The big man averaged upwards of 18 points and 12 rebounds per game in the 2013-14 season and notched what would be his final All-Star appearance.
In the end, though, things got a little ugly. Drama hit an all-time high in Houston, and Howard was the odd-man-out. He and Harden had a rough breakup, but it ended up being for the better for the Rockets. Howard will no doubt be remembered more for the breakup than for his dominance, as unfair as it is. But for a time, he was an elite center for the Houston Rockets.
Guard: Patrick Beverley
Patrick Beverley may not light up the scoreboard, but his tenacious play leaves a mark on the opposition every time. His seemingly infinite hustle was often the difference in a win or a loss. What he lacks in offensive talent, he more than makes up for in terms of defensive presence, and that impact is plenty enough to land him a spot on the all-decade bench.
Guard: Kevin Martin
In the same vein as Scola, Kevin Martin is another unsung hero for the Rockets this decade. During his three seasons in Houston, he was virtually “Harden Lite”, notching over 20 points per game at either guard position. He even found a way to get to the free-throw line around eight times a night, though Harden would later perfect the craft. Unfortunately for Martin, he was merely part of the bridge from the old Rockets to the new Rockets, and thus often gets overlooked.
Forward: PJ Tucker
In the era of positionless basketball, P.J. Tucker is one of the league’s most valuable assets. The 6’5″ unicorn can play virtually any position on the floor. During his time in Houston, he has been featured as a shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and most recently has started at the center position. He truly is a gem in the modern NBA.
Forward: Eric Gordon
There was a time that Eric Gordon was on par with Lou Williams among the best reserves in the NBA. Gordon could come off the bench and provide any type of play the Rockets needed. He could drain the three, attack the rim, provide solid defense, or some combination of the three. Injuries derailed him toward the end of the decade, but at his peak, he was an invaluable puzzle piece.
Center: Clint Capela
Of all the bench players on this list, Clint Capela has the strongest argument for being a starter. Capela became a force to be reckoned with toward the end of the decade for the Rockets. He paired flawlessly with the backcourt of Paul and Harden, often leading to wide-open dunks while also providing solid rim protection on the other end. Though he’s now a member of the Atlanta Hawks, he will likely always be remembered for his time in Houston.
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