Three young teams in the West will be gunning for the Spurs this year

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Here's what the NBA pundits are saying about the capable, youthful teams out west that will by vying to knock the reigning Western Conference Champion Spurs off their perch.

As the summer dies down and the dust begins to settle, a few teams from the Western Conference have emerged from the turmoil of the offseason in much better shape than they were last year. These are teams that could do some serious damage in 2013-14. Last season, the Golden State Warriors stunned the basketball world with their upset of the Nuggets and their fantastic series against the Spurs. Let's take a look at what the NBA blogosphere has to say about the Warriors, Rockets and Pelicans.

Golden State Warriors

If the Warriors scared you last season, you should be having a heart attack now, because this team is dangerous. The primary flaw with Golden State last season was their defense, and here's what Sam Sorkin from Warriorsworld.net had to say on the subject:

"The additions of defensive stalwart Toney Douglas, a full season of Andrew Bogut, and the free-agent signing of perhaps the NBA's premier perimeter defender in Andre Iguodala should definitely help shore up the Warriors' defense. Last season, the Warriors ranked thirteenth in giving up 102.6 points per one hundred possessions, from the NBA.com stats database. Zach Lowe of Grantland.com wrote an interesting tidbit that very much applies to this years' Warriors - "Teams can win the championship with elite offense and borderline top-ten defense, as the Mavericks did in 2011." If the Warriors can in fact improve their defense to a top-ten level, coupled with their offensive stars in the Splash Brothers and David Lee, that's a talented and terrifying team to face come the playoffs."

In the 2012 Western Conference Finals, Parker was largely neutralized in games 3-6 by Thabo Sefolosha. Having to go against Klay Thompson in the playoffs last season, Parker struggled in the first two games, only going off from Game 3 on. If the Spurs face the Warriors next season, Parker may not go up against Thompson, but against Iguodala who is a much better defender.

Houston Rockets

With the free agent signings of Reggie Williams, Aaron Brooks, Omri Casspi, and some tall scrub that nobody's heard of (but whose name rhymes with Fright Showered), the Rockets have been deemed instant title contenders. Take a look at what Derek James had to say at Hardwood Paroxysm:

The Rockets had an offseason that puts them right up there with the Spurs, Thunder and Clippers among the Western Conference's elite. If Dwight is healthy and head coach Kevin McHale can put it all together, the Rockets could be a matchup nightmare on just about every night. Morey finally saw his plan through up to this point, now let's see where this goes.

This team has some serious talent, and undoubtedly has the potential to be great. They have the same caliber of three point shooters that worked so well for Howard in Orlando. However, the bulk of their offense is run through pick-and-roll and isolation plays with Harden, and their defensive talent is limited to Howard's shot blocking and some decent defense from Chandler Parsons, their small forward. This team could either be really good or bad depending on the coaching job done by McHale.

New Orleans Hornets Pelicans

Their name wasn't the only thing they changed this offseason. Check out what Joe_M543 had to say about the Pelicans' summer moves on At the Hive:

In acquiring Holiday and Evans and retaining Gordon, the Pelicans gambled on three players similar in ways beyond their positions and playing styles. All three, unlike the assets surrendered in exchange, have proven to be valuable NBA contributors, yet still have significant upside. Rather than endure the developmental process of Noel and the future pick, the Pelicans pursued players capable of immediate production. Though the future value of this production may not exceed the potential value of Noel and a high pick in a supposedly loaded draft, there is far less risk of continued failure.

The Pelicans had one of the more eventful summers by picking up two stars in Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, as well as a couple of solid role players with Greg Stiemsma and Anthony Morrow. If Anthony Davis and Gordon can stay healthy, they have a starting five that could eventually play with anybody.

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So, what do you think? Is Bogut and Iguodala's defensive prowess is capable of making up for Lee and Curry? Do the Spurs have anything to fear from the Rockets and Pelicans, two of the teams with the most question marks around this season?

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