Did Golden State and Houston Just Change The Balance of Power In The West?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the Golden State signing Andre Iguodala from Denver and the Houston Rockets stealing Dwight Howard away from the Lakers are the Spurs and Thunder in trouble at the top of the Western Conference?

Daryl Morey finally got the man he has been going after for three years in Dwight Howard. He had been hedging and sewing the Houston Rockets' roster with smart, easily tradable contracts, keeping cap space open for a situation like this. He even completely fleeced Sam Presti, the alleged best general manager in the history of basketball. Morey got James Harden, a top five player in the NBA, for basically a bag of stale peanuts. Actually it turned out to be a one year rental of Kevin Martin (who they couldn't afford to resign), a project in Jeremy Lamb (who underachieved at UCONN) and a supposedly high lottery pick (ended up being 12th and Presti drafted Steven Adams, who probably plays less than Cole Aldrich did for OKC).

Now there is talk that Morey is about to flip Omer Asik for Ryan Anderson, from the New Orleans Pelicans, to round out the roster.

Hand the General Manager championship belt back to Morey right now and pencil in the Rockets to face the Miami Heat in June. That is if Howard is healthy and they do turn Asik into Anderson.

Here is a quick chart of wins shares of the west's seven best teams based on my projected starters. The Los Angeles Lakers are not included because they don't have a true center, Pau Gasol is currently their best healthy player, Steve Nash will be 40 before the next All-Star game and Steve Blake is the their best outside scoring threat. You can see why they are not being included on this list.

San Antonio Spurs

Win Shares

Tony Parker

Danny Green

Kawhi Leonard

Tim Duncan

Tiago Splitter

38.0

Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell Westbrook

Thabo Sefolosha

Kevin Durant

Serge Ibaka

Kendrick Perkins

49.2

Los Angeles Clippers

Chris Paul

J.J. Redick

Jared Dudley

Blake Griffin

DeAndre Jordan

40

Memphis Grizzlies

Mike Conley

Tony Allen

Quincy Pondexter

Zach Randolph

Marc Gasol

37.6

Denver Nuggets

Ty Lawson

Corey Brewer

Wilson Chandler

Kenneth Faried

JaVale McGee

27.2

Golden State Warriors

Stephen Curry

Klay Thompson

Andre Iguodala

David Lee

Andrew Bogut

32.1

Houston Rockets

Jeremy Lin

James Harden

Chandler Parsons

Ryan Anderson

Dwight Howard

45.2


Last season Howard only had a 7.6 win share, but since he was hurt and not 100% all season, so I gave him an average mean of 13.5 over his peak seasons (previous five) for his share. I think it's a better representative of overall what to expect from him.

The Miami Heat come in at 46.4 if anyone is wondering.

Another move that I love is Golden State signing Andre Iguodala. This gives the Warriors a veteran leader and voice in the locker room. Iguodala also gives the Warriors something they have been lacking for as long as I have been a fan of basketball and that is an elite perimeter defender.

He is on the backside of his prime and turns 30 in January, but he's not going to be asked to be the first, second or potentially third option on the floor. That is going to fall on Curry, Thompson and Lee. Iguodala is going to be asked to stop James Harden, Kevin Durant, Tony Parker and Chris Paul in the playoffs. Harrison Barnes now becomes the sixth man and should play decent minutes in Oakland. This is important because it'll keep Iggy fresh for the post season when he's going to have to play extended minutes agains the elite scorers in the Western Conference Playoffs.

Warriors need some more depth on the bench behind Barnes before I can really take them seriously as a contender though. Resigning Jarrett Jack is a must.

Just staring at these lineups has me giddy for mid-April 2014 and the start of the NBA playoffs already. Golden State (if Curry and Bogut can stay healthy) is now built to compete in the post season. The Clippers now have a coach in Doc Rivers who knows how to adjust in game and excels in postseason play. The Spurs are the Spurs and can never be counted out. The Rockets look ready to make a big leap. The Thunder will be there, but they have zero bench and will have to rely heavily on Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka playing 40+ minutes again all year. I am intrigued to see how the Nuggets do with Brian Shaw as coach and bringing back virtually the same team as last year. The Grizzlies are bringing back the same guys to grind other teams into submission one more time.

Gut prediction now of playoff teams, in order: Clippers, Spurs, Rockets, Thunder, Grizzlies, Warriors, Nuggets, Jazz.

I bet you thought you'd get through this without a mention of 2014 Rookie of the Year, Trey Burke, didn't ya?

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