The season grows up so quickly, doesn’t it? It feels like just yesterday, the 2013-2014 NBA season was in its infancy, just crossing the threshold into November. Continuing the analogy, the season is finishing up puberty now, right at the one third mark. Sample sizes are extending from small to large, players are shifting to new positions, and notable players are coming out of unexpected places. The season is starting to give us an impression of the end of year standings, and we can finally try to figure out which teams are contenders and which have some more growing up to do.
A few teams tower above their peers, clear favorites to meet in the Conference Finals. The Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers dominate the Eastern Conference with an undeniable superiority. Nobody else in that half of the league even has a shot unless some truly cataclysmic injuries or trades take place. The Western Conference is a bit messy, though a hierarchy is beginning to take shape. The same as the last few years, the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder are the rulers of the Pacific side of the country. Unlike in the east, there sits a group of usurpers right beside them, ready to claim that throne themselves. Where, then, do the Houston Rockets land? Are they a contender? [read more…]