In watching the Houston Astros over the last few seasons, it's easy to see the camaraderie from Club Astros to the Bregman Dugout Stare. But, these guys practically grew up together. The core of the team came up through the minors and nearly the same time.
For the 2018 Rockets, these are mostly veterans, many of them new to the team over the last year. In the case of Carmelo Anthony, it's been only weeks since he joined. But even Anthony seems to get it. When pressed on whether or not he would come off the bench this season if asked, he was clear. "Whatever I have to do to help this team win a championship, then that’s what’s going to be done," he said. "I know what my role is."
Many of the players cited a recent trip to the Bahamas where they gathered for an unofficial minicamp. Guys were required to be in shape and play hard. Harden said even he was surprised at the intensity of the young players who joined. "One thing about this team as well when guys aren't working hard, which is rare," he explained, "You're going to stick out like a sore thumb."
Of course, everything sounds great, feels great, looks great when you haven't lost a game yet, when you haven't even had a practice. But in a city where "culture" hasn't always been the hallmark of pro teams (ask the team playing at NRG about it), the Rockets clearly have zeroed in on what they believe is essential to getting back to the Western Conference Finals and beyond this season. D'Antoni agrees with his players. "With our players mentality and what is at stake and what they want," he said, "We can win."