At least for this coming season, when people talk about the Atlanta Hawks and the Houston Rockets, fans would be thinking about the 'battle' between ex teammates Dwight Howard (who is now with the Hawks) and James Harden (who's become a scoring point guard for the Rockets).

Well, was there actually a gap between the two? Perhaps.

But we're not intrigued by that anymore, since we've already seen its results. And speaking of results, there's an interesting scenario that has developed in both their current teams.

ATLANTA

With the departure of Al Horford and Jeff Teague, we now see Dwight Howard and Dennis Schroder taking their spots in the starting lineup. Did the Hawks actually become stronger?

One. If Howard could get back his All-Star form, then the team got better at the center spot. After all, Howard is stronger and taller, and is even a former DPOY and face of the Orlando Magic franchise. Otherwise, they shouldn't have let go of Horford who's got more polished offensive skills than Howard.

Two. If Schroder could show more consistency and leadership especially in the clutch, then the Hawks made the right decision at the point guard position.

Three. While the Hawks are already good-to-go at the power forward spot with Paul Millsap, the real question would be their shooting guard and small forward positions. Neither Korver nor Bazemore has shown consistency in the PlayOffs, and this could lead to their downfall. Can't afford having an 'inconsistent' starter that's especially relied for spacing -- much more two.

What should they do?

Relegate at least one of them to the bench, and most likely, it would be Bazemore since Korver could still 'beat' him if they would have a shootout for a spot with the starting lineup. Replace Bazemore with guess who? Josh Smith. Yes, the prodigal son of the Atlanta Hawks. He may have 'deteriorated' lately but being back in familiar surroundings could get back his confidence.

Think of the PlayOffs.

HOUSTON

With Dwight Howard out, in comes Clint Capela. Hey, this could be good for Houston as there wouldn't be any in-fighting for the spotlight anymore. Besides, Capela has got some potential. And of course, we've all heard of the acquisitions of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon plus a new coach in Mike D'Antoni who is known for his 'free-wheeling' style. So, did the Rockets get stronger?

Definitely.

Imagine their starting lineup. Harden at PG. Gordon at SG. Ariza at SF. Anderson at PF. Capela at the center position. Not only could the first 4 starters shoot threes -- but they're reliable. Ready for 'small ball'!

Still, the biggest change here is in fact their new coach. Mike D'Antoni.

D'Antoni's decision to put Harden at the point guard position would be ideal for a team that's had issues with 'ball movement'. How would that help? D'Antoni's 'free-wheeling' style compliments an 'iso-heavy' Harden at the point.

In the past seasons, with the Rockets backcourt of Pat Beverly and Harden -- since Beverly is in charge of distributing the ball -- once it leaves his hands and gets to Harden, it hardly comes back to him in case their play gets broken. See?

Now, with Harden at the point, he can't just go up and down the court without passing the ball! That would clearly demoralize his teammates. Harden can't just touch the ball after an in-bound and subsequently shoot all the time, you know. That would be a first round exit, if ever.

At the very least, Harden could be a decoy. That would be tougher on other teams considering the Rockets' new acquisitions in Gordon and Anderson. Just hope Gordon doesn't really get injured this season -- for other than speed, they could actually match the Golden State Warriors.

Not counting the bench, of course. Say what you?

Published by Consumer Live