The rest of the league apparently needs convincing.
"I think they're about the same, just another year older. It will be interesting to see how they share the court," an executive told Strauss.
Houston traded Paul, along with first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 and the right to swap firsts in 2021 and 2025, to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Westbrook, pairing the NBA's two most ball-dominant players. Westbrook and James Harden played together for three seasons in Oklahoma City, but that was far before either player reached his final NBA superstar form.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has brushed off concerns, telling B/R's Howard Beck the team increased its odds of winning a title by about 30 percent by making the trade. He also told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chonicle he believes the Rockets are title favorites.
"Yes. We're favorites. But as usual, there is some very tough competition: Clippers, Lakers, Utah. Then I'd say people are probably underrating Golden State still. We have a healthy respect for them. But we go in shooting for the No. 1 seed," Morey said.
The path to a championship is as wide-open as it's been in recent memory. The Golden State Warriors' superteam splintered this offseason with Kevin Durant leaving for Brooklyn and Klay Thompson suffering an ACL tear. LeBron James, who controlled the Eastern Conference for nearly a decade, is in Los Angeles with Anthony Davis but a shaky supporting cast.
The Clippers are considered championship favorites after signing Kawhi Leonard and trading for Paul George, but both players have injury concerns.
If anything, this is the Rockets' best chance at winning a championship with the Harden-Westbrook duo. Morey better hope he's the one who is right, especially with ownership preaching a win-now mantra.
Zach Lowe of ESPN and The Lowe Post joins The Full 48 with Howard Beck to answer some burning questions concerning tampering, Jimmy Butler, the Charlotte Hornets, the Big 2s in the league, the Lakers, the Hornets, and LeBron James.