The Rockets are bringing back nearly every major contributor from last year's Western Conference finals team, and adding Ty Lawson should improve an offense that, while effective and efficient, was more than a little predictable in 2014-15. There's a healthy mix between old and new here, as few teams offer the combination of star power, organizational stability, established style, depth and young potential the Rockets enjoy. Injuries were a big factor for Houston at the end of last season; with a little luck health-wise, it's easy to envision this year's Rockets validating GM Daryl Morey's math-based approach with a ring.
NBAE/Getty ImagesBill Baptist
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers came so close to taking the next step last season, but they couldn't quite get over the hump. Instead, they fell to the Rockets after taking a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals, and Chris Paul's legacy of never making it to even a conference final grew stronger. But over the summer, Los Angeles brought back DeAndre Jordan (you might remember that little kerfuffle) while bolstering the team's bench with the additions of Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith. This year's Clippers will be better prepared for April, May and (possibly) June. Yet the question remains: Can Blake Griffin and Chris Paul take this team to the promised land?
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY SportsRichard Mackson
San Antonio Spurs
It's never necessary to justify San Antonio's inclusion on a list of potential title contenders. Simply by being the Spurs, they make the list. Year after year (after year), they slide into the conversation and redefine the narrative, whether considered favorites or having been written off as too old. The Spurs are relentless. This year is no different, thanks additions of LaMarcus Aldridge and David West. Factor in Kawhi Leonard's continued development and things really get scary. Still not convinced that San Antonio is for real? We haven't even mentioned the Big Three of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker -- or the wizard behind the curtain, Gregg Popovich. So long as the core is intact, opponents best beware.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY SportsKelley L Cox
Cleveland came within two wins of an NBA title last season, and that was with both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sidelined due to injury. Assuming the Cavaliers are healthy once this postseason rolls around, the road back to The Finals should be relatively easy. The Bulls appear to be the only team capable of stopping Cleveland in the East (although the Heat might have something to say about that). And if the Cavaliers are fully stocked once they arrive in the playoffs, LeBron James might finally be able to bring home the title the city of Cleveland richly deserves. The Cavs would likely be at an overall talent deficit relative to their Western opponent in a hypothetical 2016 Finals, but James with his full complement of teammates is a match for any squad.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY SportsJeff Hanisch
Golden State Warriors
Enough talk about luck, or injuries, or whatever: The Warriors were historically dominant last season, and critics just have to accept that. They might shoot too many jumpers for some people and play some funky lineups with no player taller than 6-foot-7, but the Warriors' revolutionary style isn't some gimmick. It legitimately works, thanks to their unique personnel. Stephen Curry is the one-man engine that makes the offense go. Draymond Green is the Swiss Army knife. Klay Thompson is the king of 3-and-D, and his offensive game is expanding. And that's before we mention Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut or the brilliance of head coach Steve Kerr, for that matter. This team is built to contend for the next half-decade at least. Get used to the Warriors.