Once upon a time in the NBA, there was BackCourt 2000. Penny Hardaway was traded to the Phoenix Suns to play with Jason Kidd. The two All-Stars were supposed to change the game and become the best backcourt in the league, but injuries prevented them from reaching their potential on the court. Fast forward to 2017. We’ve had the Shaq and Kobe era, Big 3 in Boston, Heatles in Miami, and whatever kind of alien super team the Warriors are, but we haven’t had an elite point guard join forces with another elite point guard since then. Chris Paul and James Harden may not put the Rockets on Golden State's level, but in a Mike D'Antoni offense—these two will put on a show night after night.

How did Chris Paul end up with the Rockets?

Chris Paul gambled on his financial future to win. He had a $200 million contract on the table with the Clippers, but forced his way to the Rockets. Watching Houston play in the preseason, this team is absolutely worth the price of admission. A Mike D’Antoni offense hasn’t always worked (i.e. Knicks and Lakers), but when he’s had an All-Star point guard—he has revolutionized the way NBA offenses play. Now, he has two.

Paul and Harden are at their best with the ball in their hands, but that kind of ball dominance has proved to wear on them over the course of the season. Both have had playoff issues related to their play. Harden still has some stink on him from the way he ended last season.

He was awful in the final playoff game vs. the Spurs, almost appearing to give up. Paul also has some major big game flops on his resume.

If you need a reminder, check out this 2-min clip.

Are the Rockets even close to the Warriors?

The Rockets are at least a piece away, and they know it. After acquiring Paul, GM Daryl Morey desperately tried to add Carmelo Anthony—but couldn't pull off a deal without completely dismantling the team.

A lot can change over the course of the season, so maybe an unexpected player becomes available, but, to attract that third star in free agency, a couple of different things need to play out.

In the case of Harden, gone are the days that he can just allow a player to blow past him or cut behind him for an easy bucket. His former coach and Celtics legend, Kevin McHale, recently came out and said that Harden wasn’t a leader—mostly because of his defensive effort.

He was better last year, but with the arrival of Paul, Harden doesn't have to bear the entire offensive burden anymore. So, there are no more excuses. No one expects him to be a stopper—but he does need to display more competence on that end of the floor. Defense does win championships, and just because that's a cliche, it doesn't make it any less true.

Chris Paul really is the perfect point guard. His skills and leadership are everything a team would want, but he earned a reputation in Los Angeles as a guy that other players didn't enjoy playing with. That's a problem. NBA players are willing to put up with a lot to compete for a championship, but no difference-maker is going to join a losing, dysfunctional team.

Whether those problems stemmed from Paul, Blake Griffen, or Doc Rivers, something happened that caused Paul to abandon that $200 million contract. Now, he's got to help create a winning culture or become the missing piece for another championship contender next year.