With or without James Harden, the Houston Rockets were bound to have a new look this season after the departures of Daryl Morey, Mike D’Antoni and Russell Westbrook.
So far, it’s looking pretty fun.
New Rockets players John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, who both missed all of last season with serious injuries, shined in Friday’s preseason-opening 125-104 win against the Chicago Bulls. Wall in particular looked rejuvenated, totaling 13 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds in 19 minutes played.
John Wall is back
Pretty good for a guy seeing his first NBA action since 2018.
After the game, Wall noted the game one day before the anniversary of his mother’s death. He said the date made his performance more special.
John Wall points out that tomorrow will be one year to the day since his mom’s passing, and that seems to have made his return tonight more special.
— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) December 12, 2020
Wall missed the second half of the 2018-19 season and the entire 2019-20 season after a galling sequence of maladies in which he needed surgery to remove a one-and-a-half-inch bone spur from his left heel, had said heel get infected, then ruptured his Achilles in the shower.
With his supermax contract still on the books for the Washington Wizards, the team decided to exchange him and a first-round pick for Russell Westbrook.
The move at least reunited Wall with Cousins, his college teammate for a year at Kentucky. Alongside Wall, Cousins showed off his range with three made 3-pointers, all assisted by his old friend.
Cousins, who missed all of last season with an ACL tear, ended up posting 14 points and 5 rebounds. Overall, it was a comforting kind of win for the Rockets. Even without one of the league’s premier shooters in Harden, the team made 24-of-52 3-pointers.
All of this optimism comes with the obvious caveat that we’re talking about a preseason game, against a young team that hasn’t played since March.
Staying bearish on the Rockets while Harden tries to push his way out is arguably still warranted, but the best the Rockets could have reasonably hoped for on Friday was Wall looking like his old self and playing well with his new teammates. That’s pretty much what they got.
We’ll see if it gets any better if and when Harden returns to the court.
More from Yahoo Sports: