With Dwight Howard signing with the Houston Rockets, here are my top 5 teams that can knock off the Miami Heat next year.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder are coming off a season where everyone questioned their trade of James Harden to the Rockets. Proving them wrong, OKC grabbed the top playoff seed in the west. However, Russell Westbrook went down with a tear in his meniscus during the first round. The Thunder weren’t able to get past the second round, falling to the Memphis Grizzlies. With Westbrook coming back from injury, and Kevin Durant getting better, OKC will once again be top dog in the west.
2. Los Angeles Clippers
The biggest challenge to the Thunder in the West are the Los Angeles Clippers. In the offseason, the Clippers have managed to resign Chris Paul, hire Doc Rivers as their coach, and add some shooters on the perimeter in J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley; However, they lose young stud Eric Bledsoe. While they weren’t able to grab Dwight Howard to pair him up with Chris Paul, this team will definitely be one of the best in the NBA.
3. Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose sat out all of last season recovering from a torn ACL. He should be back next season though, and a fully healthy Rose on this Chicago team will be the biggest threat to the Heat in the East. Before Rose was injured in the 2012 Playoffs, the Bulls had the best record in the East and with him back Chicago will be a top contender.
4. Indiana Pacers
In last year’s playoffs, the Pacers took the Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. With Paul George and Roy Hibbert developing in to stars, Indiana is going to be one of the top teams in the East for years to come. The whole NBA should be on alert.
5. Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets won the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. Pairing Howard with James Harden will be like when the Lakers had Kobe and Shaq. The Rockets have talent to put around Harden and Howard with Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons. Last year, Houston ranked 28th in points allowed, and adding Howard will definitely fix that. And if Houston is trying to add Josh Smith like reports say, the Western Conference is going to be fun to watch.
Teams that just missed the top five: San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks