Although all the talk remains on who will de-throne the Heat in the East, there is also the question of who will stop the Spurs or Thunder in the West? A lot of people believe the Warriors are capable of doing some damage in the West, and I think that is true. But I think the REAL top contender to beat the top two teams in the West, is the Houston Rockets.
With the off-season signing of Dwight Howard, the Houston Rockets became a complete team. In last years season, the Rockets already showed the NBA universe that they are 100% capable of scoring, averaging 106 ppg, second in the NBA. Also, the Rockets were able to spread the floor as Chandler Parsons and James Harden lit it up from beyond the arch all of last season. Furthermore, the Rockets have a dynamic point guard in Jeremy Lin, who averaged 6 assists per game as well as 13 points per game.
The one downside to their game was defense. The Houston Rockets gave up almost 103 points per game, which was fourth worst in the NBA last season. To go along with that, the Rockets grabbed about 43 boards per game, which was 7th best in the NBA. If the Rockets could increase their rankings on these aspects of the game, they will easily become a top five NBA team. The best part is, the Rockets have the answer to their problem-- Dwight Howard.
Throughout his complex career, Dwight has had extreme upside, despite what everyone says. Of course, people started hating him when he chose the Lakers, and it ended up becoming humiliating for him by the end of the season as they just barely made the playoffs. Yes, I disliked him as well for going to the Lakers, and was happy when things didn't go their way, but I knew Dwight still had a great season although people don't recognize that. Everyone blames Dwight for the Lakers failure, but really, Dwight did his part. Coming off of an injury, Dwight STILL managed to average 17 points per game and grab above 12 boards per game in one season. Not only that, but he blocked on average 2 shots a game which is great. And that was for a coach he despised.
Think about the damage Dwight can now do, when he has a coach that can help his game develop tremendously in Kevin McHale as well as one of the all time greats Hakeem Olajuwon. Just this morning, Dwight was working out with these two in the paint. Even ESPN says that if Dwight could learn some moves from the great Hakeem such as the dream shake, he would almost be unstoppable. With the help from the whole Rockets community, including Hakeem, Dwight can be the star of the show. He can definitely contribute in both of the Rockets' problems down low. He is one of the best inside defenders and he has proven that throughout his whole career. He can easily drop their points allowed down a significant amount. To go along with that, Dwight is a monster when it comes to the glass (he averaged the most rebounds per game last season), so he can stop teams from getting extra possessions when he is on the court.
Also, it's not like when Dwight is not on the court everything goes wrong; the Rockets are a very deep team. Omer Asik, the starting center for the team last year, also averaged about 11.7 rpg and 10 ppg. Although those numbers will be reduced as Dwight will take over the starting role, Houston still has a presence inside. To go along with this presence, the center in Houston is surrounded with All-Star players in Harden, Parsons and Lin. Like the Bulls, it's going to be hard for any team to defeat the Rockets because they have four potential All-Stars, that aren't even at the top of their game yet.
Lastly, I have to make one huge prediction for next season: Dwight Howard, possibly, for MVP. Yes, I think LeBron and Durant and Paul have the best chances, but Dwight has a chance as well. If he can average over twenty points a game, which I think he will, grab 13 rebounds a game, and block almost 3 shots a game, Dwight definitely has a chance. Dwight has already made a name for himself defensively, and in my opinion will be NBA 1st team all defense next year, but he has to prove that he can score and be effective on the glass. He is going into next season with confidence because of all the assistance he is getting from his coach and former great Hakeem Olajuwon, which makes me have high expectations for him.
All in all, with the addition of Dwight Howard, the Rockets have a perfect amount of perimeter threats and inside game which make them a great threat to all the best teams in the West.