#4 – The Houston Rockets

Man I’m just really glad we’re done with all this Khloe Kardashian nonsense. Because after an ugly 0-3 start to the season, these Rockets are blasting off to a 4 game winning streak and there is no looking back. (Harden highlight)

As much as the San Antonio Spurs absolutely blew away the rest of the league this offseason, we should note how Houston General Manager, and self-proclaimed Dork Elvis, Daryl Morey was able to fly completely under the radar (how many more terrible puns will I use in this article haha?) and STEAL Ty Lawson away from the Denver Nuggets with a package of basically spare parts and a heavily protected 2016 first round pick. It’s a relatively low-cost gamble on Lawson’s talent; the point guard checked himself into rehab for alcohol abuse last year after being arrested for multiple D.U.I.s, but is a dangerously explosive player and has been almost a double-double lock throughout his career when he’s feeling right. While he and Harden may not be able to coexist defensively for long stretches of time, in theory he gives Houston what they needed most last year in a secondary scorer and creator behind the Beard.

The only worry is that the last thing the Rockets may need in their locker room is another volatile personality. Harden and Howard are considered by most to be fairly harmless goofballs, more likely to not take a particular loss seriously than they are to actively pick fights with their teammates. Still, it’s not hard to remember how the L.A. stint ended for D12, and Harden himself may have not been the greatest angel-teammate in OKC (really credible on that last one). For a team of “Swag Champs” that doesn’t really have a top 10 coach or a veteran presence outside of the “Silent Killer” Trevor Ariza, there’s more than enough reason to think that things could turn sour in Houston.

Hey, well that’s only all the better for the league pass rankings. Plus, in addition to all of the fun silliness of Lil B cooking curses and Keeping up with the Kardashians and Dwight Howard owning 50 guns and 20 snakes these guys are really good. Like really, really good. They earned the 2nd seed in the West with Howard missing exactly half of the season last year and have only improved with Lawson. They run 11 or 12 deep, with young cheap athletic talents like KJ McDaniels (aww poor Klay Thompson) and Clint Capela backing up their more established players and were one of the best defensive teams in the league last year, with the kind of wily, able-to-switch wings that only exist in Golden State and Milwaukee. Scarier than all of that? These guys are all on super-movable contracts, they have their 2018 first rounder, and Morey is exactly the kind of guy to make that one blockbuster move at the deadline.

A lot of pundits have flagged the Rockets’ depth and their crazy propensity for shooting threes as reasons for this team to be in strong consideration for winning the West. Eight games into the season, it’s clear no one predicted how fired up the Warriors would be after getting snubbed as “just lucky” all summer long, but it’s still safe to say that Houston is going to be in contention for homecourt all year long. And, more importantly, not only are these guys going to be competing and winning games, but they are going to be doing so playing the role of the villain all year long. Whether it was the obnoxious antics of Hollywood Howard/Harden or the in-your-face chippiness of bench players like Corey Brewer or Patrick Beverley there wasn’t a single team outside of the Clippers that was so vehemently hated on by the rest of the league. And, for them to go dark side on everyone else’s ass, while dropping the ill swag to back it up, man these guys are going to be a lot of fun to watch this year. Even if you’re rooting against them.

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