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Why the Houston Rockets Can Win the Western Conference

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The Western Conference will be an absolute bloodbath this season. The Spurs have reloaded by adding LaMarcus Aldridge and David West, The Thunder got healthy, the Clippers upgraded their bench, and the Warriors are still the Warriors, a team that won 67 games last season. Those teams will be fighting for the top seeds in the conference throughout the season, and the final standings probably won’t be finalized until the final day of the regular season. However, the Houston Rockets have upgraded themselves, turning them in to a force in the Western Conference and the league in general.

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Let’s first start off by realizing that the Rockets made it to the Western Conference Finals last season without Patrick Beverley and Donatas Motiejunas! Just adding those two back in the lineup/rotation will make a noticeable difference in the postseason. However, the Rockets added Ty Lawson without giving up a single key player from the playoff rotation (yes Pablo Prigioni did play some key minutes- but that wasn’t desired by any Rockets fan). Therefore, the Rockets upgraded their weakest position (point guard) without losing any key pieces.

Ty Lawson (right) and Patrick Beverley will join forces to create a dynamic one-two punch at point guard for the Houston Rockets. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

I am a huge believer in the Ty Lawson-Patrick Beverley duo at point guard, as they can be a nice 1-2 punch at the point guard position. Beverley provides the tough defense and capable (and hopefully improving) three point shooting, while Lawson is an excellent offensive player who averaged 15.2 ppg and over 9 apg last season.

Another reason why the Rockets will come out of the Western Conference is continuity. The Rockets are returning the majority of the team that made it to the WCF last season. Yes Ty Lawson is a big change to the lineup, but I don’t believe it will take as long for the Rockets to integrate him into the lineup as it will for the Spurs to bring Aldridge up to speed on the Spurs’ system. The Rockets brought back Corey Brewer and K.J. McDaniels, and pairing them with Beverley and either Terrence Jones or Motiejunas creates one of the best  bench units in the league.

That leads into the final reason why the Rockets will come out of the Western Conference. The Rockets are arguably the deepest team in the conference, boasting a team that is two deep at nearly every position. I love the idea of Clint Capela developing in his second season, and bringing back Jason Terry and signing Marcus Thornton were both underrated moves in my opinion. Both provide veteran leadership and three point shooting, two things the Rockets love and need.

Another important aspect of the Rockets being one of the deepest teams in the conference is that it allows Kevin McHale to rest star players such as James Harden and Dwight Howard more often. Howard has struggled with injuries over the past couple of seasons, and his minutes definitely need to be monitored and limited throughout the regular season. Harden (as well as Trevor Ariza) has played too many minutes over the past couple of seasons, and it will surely catch up to him at sometime during his career.

By limiting the minutes of key contributors and star players, the Rockets will not only be a healthier team, but they will be a fresher team with full energy for the stretch run and postseason. That may end up being a deciding factor in not only which team is the #1 seed for the playoffs, but who ultimately wins the conference and goes to the NBA Finals.

To summarize, the three key reasons I believe the Houston Rockets can win the Western Conference this season are: off season upgrades (mainly Ty Lawson), continuity, and a deep roster. Throw in the other factors that several Western Conference contenders may deal with throughout the season, and there is reason to believe that the Houston Rockets can win the Western Conference. The Rockets have “championship or bust” expectations this season, and unlike previous years, it seems that those expectations are a reality.

In conclusion, The Rockets upgraded their weakest position, improved their bench, and retained the same team that went through a lot last season, which improved the team’s chemistry. It may take the Spurs a good amount of time to integrate LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant is coming off a scary injury, the Clippers added multiple “personalities” (Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson), and it is extremely difficult to repeat as champions in the NBA (sorry Warriors). That is why the Rockets will come out of the deep Western Conference this season.

Do you think the Houston Rockets can win the Western Conference this season? Share your opinions in the comments section below!

Next: Houston Rockets Fantasy Basketball Preview

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