Toronto Raptors: Who from the Southwest Division can compete with the Raptors?

SAN ANTONIO,TX - OCTOBER 23: LaMarcus Aldridge
SAN ANTONIO,TX - OCTOBER 23: LaMarcus Aldridge /
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Toronto Raptors
Oklahoma City Thunder – Carmello Anthony and Houston Rockets – P.J. Tucker (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

HOUSTON ROCKETS

Last season actual: 65 – 17

This season forecast: 58 – 24

Welcome: Carmelo Anthony, Marquese Chriss, Brandon Knight, Michael Carter-Williams, James Ennis III, and Vincent Edwards

Farewell: Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute, Ryan Anderson, and De’Anthony Melton

Let’s address the elephant in the room immediately: whether Anthony plays on the bench or not shouldn’t be cause for concern. The ten-time All-Star has been the subject of scrutiny following his less-than-gracious exit from Oklahoma City.

Anthony gives the Rockets that third option for “Iso-Ball”, something they didn’t have last season. As far as if he can coexist with Harden and Paul, that shouldn’t be an issue as he and Paul are good friends and all three have played together as part of Team USA.

The losses of Ariza and Mbah a Moute will hurt as they were two of the team’s best defenders. On the plus side, they finally traded away Ryan Anderson and received Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight.

Chriss was inconsistent in Phoenix and at times looked disinterested in playing. But he showed flashes of potential and his length can make him a decent defender if D’Antoni can get him to focus. Knight will compete with Carter-Williams for the backup role behind Paul.

Houston’s window to win the championship may have already passed last season. They came within one game of dethroning the Warriors by exploiting Golden State’s lack of interior toughness. Against Cousins, that may not work this time.

Next. Ranking every Raptors player. dark

The Rockets can draw inspiration from the 2007-08 Celtics, which saw three NBA stars combine their powers to win their first championship.

Houston can be that team if they remain as hungry as they were last season. But winning 65 games or even 60 will be tougher now, especially playing in a stacked division.