1. Houston Rockets – With James Harden being named Houston’s starting point guard, things are about to take a turn in the right direction for the Rockets. When Harden was in OKC, he was basically the team’s backup point guard, and now having the ball in his hands full-time will allow everyone else on the Rockets to get open looks. Expect a big year from Harden in both the scoring and assists columns.
The Rockets also brought in two shooters from the Pelicans in Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson via free agency. Having a number of perimeter threats could lead to James Harden putting up MVP numbers and ultimately leading the league in assists. A lot of talk about Harden in this post, but let’s face it, the Rockets success starts and ends with him.
2. San Antonio Spurs – The team that always wins 50+ games looks to continue its winning ways post Tim Duncan era. They have retooled their roster with veterans Pau Gasol and David Lee after losing Duncan, Boris Diaw (Jazz), Boban Marjanovic (Pistons), and David West (Warriors).
With Superstars Lamarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard leading the charge, the Spurs should keep up their winning ways this season and be in the thick of fighting for a top playoff spot in the West.
3. Memphis Grizzlies – The grind house of the NBA, the Memphis Grizzlies have a new first year head coach in David Fizdale, and have brought in injury-plagued Chandler Parsons in hopes of keeping their aging roster in playoff contention.
Having a team that always finds itself winning games on the defensive end of things will help their transition in playing coach Fizdale’s style of basketball. Unfortunately, this frequent playoff team will more than likely find themselves on the outs and be in the lower end of the lottery after this season.
4. Dallas Mavericks – The Dallas Mavericks brought in a couple NBA proven players this offseason to help out Dirk Nowitzki. Harrison Barnes and Seth Curry look to come in and provide quality shooters, along with Andrew Bogut bringing a defensive presence to what is already a quality NBA roster.
If Dirk can continue to create magic on the court, and the team continues to play team ball and stay healthy, the Mavs will be a middle of the pack playoff team in a loaded Western Conference.
5. New Orleans Pelicans – The injury-plagued Pelicans weren’t able to catch a break last season, and this season they look to return to being a competitive team. After the unfortunate news of Jrue Holiday’s wife having to have surgery to remove a brain tumor, the Pelicans have lost Holiday indefinitely. Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter are also out until mid December, and seeing Eric Gordon (Rockets) and Ryan Anderson (Rockets) leave in free agency doesn’t help the situation.
The Pelicans are looking for Anthony Davis to return to his MVP form from two seasons ago, and they also brought in collegiate sharpshooter Buddy Hield to give the team a consistent three-point threat. The Pelicans should improve from last season as long as everyone can stay healthy.