Houston Rockets guard James Harden is ready to face the Golden State Warriors in the 2017-18 NBA season. In a recent interview with USA Today Sports, Harden acknowledged that the defending champions are still the team to beat. However, he believes that the Rockets are on the same caliber as the Dubs. Last season, Houston was seen as a legitimate threat to Golden State. Sadly, the Rockets lost their regular season series with the Warriors. They won the first meeting in a double-overtime thriller but were then defeated in the next three outings.

Houston's rivalry with Golden State will have a different look in the upcoming season.

The biggest change is the inclusion of Chris Paul. The Rockets gave up seven players, a future first-rounder, and cash to the Los Angeles Clippers back in June to acquire Paul. It is yet to be determined if Paul's addition would help the Rockets end the Warriors' dominance in the West, though they are among the favorites to contend in the conference.

CP3 unhappy with Clippers

In Harden's interview with USA Today Sports, he spoke about Paul as well. He thinks the veteran point guard was "unhappy" in Los Angeles before they took him from the Clippers. Paul is yet to comment on Harden's remarks, but there might be some truth to this. Paul became the leader of the Clippers for six seasons. Sadly, his efforts always came up short.

He was unable to carry the organization to an NBA title despite playing alongside fellow All-Stars Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Their trio was also backed by an excellent supporting cast led by Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick. The greatest achievement of this core unit was making it to two consecutive conference semifinals in 2014 and 2015.

Dwight Howard blames Harden for decline

If Harden is gearing up for a new campaign, a former teammate of his is trying to blame him for the lackluster performance he had in the past few seasons. In an interview with ESPN, Charlotte Hornets center Dwight Howard mentioned Harden when talking about the ball-dominant players he worked with.

According to Howard, teaming up with Harden (and Kobe Bryant) "affected" his performance, which prevented him from being the dominant player he once was. Howard spent three seasons in Houston and was a starter during his time with the team. The big man averaged a double-double per game in his entire stint with the Rockets, but his offensive output declined.