The Western Conference is both exciting and surprising this season. The top team of the Western Conference is exceeding their expectations. They also have a lead over teams such as former champions.
Each year, the Western Conference is competitive. The Western Conference race is always close and competitive. In the West, a single loss can shift a team's position from the fourth spot to the seventh. A win could lead to the eighth seed jumping to the sixth seed or higher. A losing streak is costly in the West.
The West looks different this year, but the competitiveness remains. There are teams such as the Lakers who are playoff bound. Another team to consider is the Sacramento Kings. The Kings are 19-16. Their record makes them eighth in the West. There are teams in the West with records over .500 but they are not playoff bound.
The Memphis Grizzlies are currently 10th in the West. They have a record of 18-17. The Grizzlies are out of the top-eight teams but that could change. If the Grizzlies were in the East, they would be sixth. The West in a tough conference and the top-five teams can change at any moment. Here are the current top-five teams of the Western Conference.
#5 Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets are 5th in the Western Conference. They climbed up the standings after they were 12th in the West. In less than two weeks, they rose to the fifth spot. The Rockets are on a four-game winning streak and have won nine of their last 10 games. They currently have a record of 20-15.
James Harden is putting up MVP caliber stats. If he continues, he could be on the verge of another MVP award later in the season. On Saturday, Harden had his third consecutive 40-point game. He had 41 points in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans. The Rockets beat the Pelicans 108-104.
Harden scored 45 points against the Boston Celtics on Thursday. This was also his 6th straight game with 35 points or more. His game against the Pelicans marks his 7th. Harden also had a good showing against the OKC Thunder on Christmas Day. He finished the game with 41 points and seven assists in the 113-109.
The Rockets don't have Chris Paul, who is currently out with a hamstring injury. His last game was against the Miami Heat earlier this month. Now, James Harden is the starting point guard. Harden has played well in the role.
James Harden and the Rockets are making their way towards the top of the West. If Harden plays at this level, he can help the Rockets climb higher.