Review of eliminated western conference playoff teams

Western Conference season wrap ups: another one bites the dust

6/21/13 in NBA   |   droth   |   127 respect

Only one team finishes the NBA Playoffs truly happy.  For everyone else, well, there's always next year.

Apr 28, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers injured guard Kobe Bryant watches the final seconds of the Lakers 103-82 loss to the Spurs in game four of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY SportsAs we progress in the playoffs, we're taking a look at each team that's been eliminated, examining their strengths and weaknesses, what brought on their playoff demise, and what to keep an eye heading into the 2013-14 season.

Every team will get analyzed individually but stay tuned to this list to get access to all the facts you need to know about Western Conference teams as they're sent home for the summer (Click on the team to get to the in-depth team analysis).

Lakers:  The storied franchise was supposed to take the league by storm this year.  Things didn't really go according to plan and, following a first round sweep, the Lakers have major questions ahead of them.  The top priority is bringing Dwight Howard back.   Fortunately, they have a lot of roster and salary flexibility to build around Howard in the next few seasons but plenty of questions about the future remain.

Nuggets:  The Nuggets got Curry'd.  They were one of the most exciting teams in basketball and a great story this season, working as a team to win despite lacking a star.  Then Steph Curry happened and now we're left wondering how they'll adapt.  Andre Iguodala could be gone and they're still searching for that go to guy that can carry them when they need it.  Even with such concerns, the Nuggets have a great coach and a strong enough roster to withstand some changes.

Clippers:  Chris Paul's contract is up and the Clippers need to bring him back.  Paul led the Clips to their best season ever but he couldn't do it alone.  Blake Griffin is a capable number two, but the Clippers need to get bigger,  stronger and meaner if they want to challenge in the West next season.  LA also has too many pieces that don't necessarily fit together and need to establish more solid roles around Chris Paul.

Rockets:  The Rockets were supposed to be a lottery team until they acquired James Harden.  From that point on, they were an electrifying display of three pointers and one-man fast breaks.  Harden proved that he wasn't just good against other teams' bench players.  He is a first option and the Rockets could be very dangerous if he had some more support.  The Rockets are loaded with young, cheap talent and GM Daryl Morey is constantly surveying the market, looking to jump when a superstar is available.  

Thunder:  This was a season of "what ifs" for the Thunder.  What if they never traded Harden?  What if Russell Westbrook never got hurt?  While it was a disappointing end to the season for Thunder fans, the future is still bright.  Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka are alll young and they got draft picks in the Harden deal, including a lottery pick originally from Toronto, that will keep the team stocked with talent.  The OKC front office isn't going for the home run acquisition, they have a defined strategy to remain competitive for years, restocking the team with talent through the draft rather than relying on free agency.  Going forward, the team needs to decide whether or not to try to bring back Kevin Martin, but either way they will remain a contender year in and year out.
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