Certainly, no one has forgotten how the Houston Rockets finished the season. Their fearless leader James Harden shockingly went missing, and they barely missed out on reaching the Western Conference Finals, falling to the San Antonio Spurs in game 6. So this begs the question, how can the Rockets improve this off-season to be better next season?

What's interesting about the Rockets is that they have fully adopted the Warriors style of basketball; the three ball will beat the two ball. They aren't terrible at it either. But how can the Houston Rockets elevate from their current position and eclipse a western conference finals slot?

Production

James Harden had an unbelievable season. A majority of the season was highlighted by James Harden and the unbelievable heights he had taken Houston too. Mike D'Antoni had announced that Harden would be playing the point this season, and people couldn't believe it. However, one season later, and D'Antoni is hailed as a genius.

The main point here is that Harden has to continue to put up these numbers next season.

For me, this was the first year that I really understood Harden's real talent. In the past, I had viewed him as a player who was only talented at getting to the charity stripe off of cheap fouls.

Although he still possesses this skill, he turned up his actual production this season. Harden averaged 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 11.2 assists per game this season. Those are numbers that he has to continue to provide and improve on.

Don’t miss the latest news!
Click on the topic you interest most. We'll keep you updated with all the news you shouldn't miss.
NBA

But more improvement should come on the defensive end, where there is lots more room for improvement.

I truly believe it was Harden who brought this Rockets team to a whole new level. But one player who played a critical role this season is on the free agent list for Houston.

Free agents

The free agent discussed above is Nene Hilario. Although his production this season was less than his career averages, he was still a viable go-to option.

Nene averaged 9.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, and .6 blocks per game. However, this is only while averaging 17.9 minutes - which for a 34-year-old is great numbers. However, Nene's abilities might be capitalized by a few big games in the western conference quarterfinals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He scored 15 points in game 1, broke out for 28 points in game 4, and capped it off with 14 points in the final game.

Thinking back to those games, it was kind of crazy that he was adding so much to this Rockets team.

Being on the free agent's list puts Houston in a unique position. With a little bit of cap space, they could clear him and pursue a free agent. However, you should not undermine the production he provided for the Rockets this season. Therefore I expect the Rockets to attempt to keep Nene at a cheaper cost but ultimately fail.

If Nene took a pay cut then consider him a solid presence for Houston next season, but I don't see it happening. Nene will certainly have a market after a revitalization this season. So expect a team to come in big for him; or at least bigger than Houston, with Nene being unrestricted.

Beyond Nene, Bobby Brown and Troy Williams are the free agents also Houston's roster. I can't see either coming back, as neither played an essential role this season. However they are both restricted, so Houston might consider keeping them if it is cheap enough. Namely Troy Williams as he plays a bigger role going forward then Brown.

But Houston's free agents only have the situation in Houston.

Who to pursue

With Harden at the point, Eric Gordon at shooting the guard, Ryan Anderson at power forward, and Clint Capela at center, where should the Rockets improve? Don't forget the Rockets also boast Lou Williams off the bench; an electrifying natural scorer from beyond the arc. But also, they are developing young talents in Montrezl Harrell and Sam Dekker.

With all this being said, the position that they should consider improving is forward. There are plenty of forwards to go around with the skill-set they need. Although they boast a lot of forwards, the rookies can still be inexperienced at times, and Trevor Ariza isn't getting any younger. Although this is my recommendation on the position they should think about improving, I don't see Houston making any moves.

Bottom line

The Houston Rockets will more than likely keep the roster they have and hope for a more fruitful season. Perhaps they will add a cheap but worthwhile free agent, but nothing that would require them to make financial sacrifices. The Rockets don't even have a pick, so I don't expect too much to move around the camp this off-season. But if Nene is removed from the roster, expect a big move.

Don't miss our page on Facebook!
Click to read more