5 Teams in the West That Will Have a Better Record Than the Rockets

Jordan Morey@@JordanAMoreyContributor IIIJuly 17, 2013

5 Teams in the West That Will Have a Better Record Than the Rockets

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    The Houston Rockets made the highest-profile signing in free agency when they acquired Dwight Howard.  Many have touted the Rockets as the favorites to raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2014.

    But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

    The Rockets are just beginning to establish themselves as a team that can go deep into the playoffs.  There are many other teams in the league that boast championship-caliber talent.

    The Rockets will likely have Howard, Jeremy Lin, James Harden, Francisco Garcia and Chandler Parsons start next season.  While this lineup has a ton of potential, they will still need to prove that they can hang with the top teams in the Western Conference.

    Here are five teams that will have better records than the Rockets during the 2013-14 NBA season.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    The Memphis Grizzlies have one of the strongest defenses in the NBA.

    Last season, the Grizzles finished with the second-best defense in the league allowing 97.4 points per game, per ESPN.com.  

    Much of the credit for the team's defensive grittiness can be attributed to Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph—two of the best big men today.

    Thanks to the Memphis Grizzlies' re-signing of Tony Allen, the team will likely sit near the top of the defensive standings again next season.  

    The team added another talented big man this offseason by trading for Kosta Koufos.  Koufus averaged eight points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks for the Nuggets in 22.4 minutes, according to NBA.com.

    The Grizzlies also boast one of the best defensive point guards in Mike Conley.  Conley has also developed a mean game from distance, shooting 37.5 percent from three in his career, per ESPN.com.


Golden State Warriors

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    The Golden State Warriors had an electrifying season in 2012-13 behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.  

    Mark Jackson’s squad shocked many in the postseason when the Warriors beat the third-seeded Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.

    At the beginning of the offseason, the Warriors made waves by signing free agent guard Andre Iguodala.  Iguodala, one of the elite wing-defenders in the NBA, will provide the young team with better defense and leadership.

    With the addition of Iguodala, Harrison Barnes will now likely come off the bench as the sixth man.  Barnes, in his rookie season, averaged 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists in last year's playoffs, via NBA.com.

    The second-year man could provide a huge offensive spark off the bench.  If he continues to grow at such a fast rate, he could potentially be the 2014 NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    The Los Angeles Clippers made all of the right moves this offseason.  They will have a very talented roster to work with in 2013-14.

    The Clippers re-signed Chris Paul to a five-year deal , and landed J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley in a three-team trade for Eric Bledsoe with the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks.

    Redick, an exceptional three-point specialist, could have a huge season with the Clips. The 2-guard has averaged 9.4 points on 39 percent from beyond the arc in his seven-year career, per ESPN.com.  

    With Paul and Blake Griffin receiving a ton of attention on offense, Redick will get his fair share of open shots.

    The team also made a key move when they re-signed veteran Matt Barnes.  Barnes had a strong postseason, averaging 11.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.  He has the ability to have huge games for the Clips.  Barnes put up 30 points and 10 rebounds in Game 6 of the first round, via ESPN.com.

    The Clips were also able to sign future Hall of Fame coach Doc Rivers.  Under Rivers, the Clips will have a much more disciplined squad.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    The Oklahoma City Thunder will regain their composure in 2013-14 with the return of All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook.

    Headed by three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant, the Thunder will boast one of the top starting lineups in the league in 2013-14.

    Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins’ defensive abilities can keep elite players from having big games.  

    The Thunder finished tied third for least amount of points per game allowed last season with the San Antonio Spurs, via ESPN.com.  

    In the 2013 NBA playoffs, the Thunder beat the Houston Rockets in six games without Westbrook.


San Antonio Spurs

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    The San Antonio Spurs have one of the strongest starting lineups in the NBA.  They have a fantastic balance of young and veteran players.

    Anchored by Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, last year’s team nearly captured an NBA championship against the Miami Heat.

    Duncan and Parker have shown no signs of slowing down, and should put up consistent numbers again next season.

    Danny Green had his coming-out in last year’s playoffs, averaging 11.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 31.9 minutes, via ESPN.com.  Green set an NBA Finals record by netting 27 threes in the seven games.  In 2013-14, Green is poised to have an even better season.

    Third-year player Kawhi Leonard will also have a big season next year.  Leonard averaged 11.9 points, six rebounds and 1.6 assists, per ESPN.com.  Had Leonard hit his two free throws at the end of Game 6 in the NBA Finals, the Spurs may have won the title.  

    The Spurs could very well have the best team in the West again next season.