Dark Horse Teams this 2012-2013 NBA Season (Western Conference)

Today, we’re going to be taking a look at 2 teams that have a shot to pull off an upset and go all the way to the NBA Finals. Of course, we’re not going to take a look at how the Sacramento Kings can miraculously win 55 games and make it out of the West.

The 4 dark horse teams (2 from the East, 2 from the West) that will be analyzed have just enough talent to compete for a title, but aren’t really considered as legit title contenders.

Let’s start with the Western Conference:

1.)    Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers quietly put together a great offseason. They acquired Grant Hill, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom, and Jamal Crawford. They were able to add a lot of depth to their team.

While everyone was busy celebrating the Howard and Nash acquisitions in L.A., people sort of forgot that the other L.A. team was putting together a roster that could rival the Lakers. The main problem that the Clippers had last season was pacing. Chris Paul, at times, was not able to completely lead the Clippers’ offense the way it should be.

Obviously, Vinny Del Negro isn’t the best X and O’s guy, so it is expected of CP3 to carry the offensive load. The Clippers often found themselves trailing big in the 4th quarter or blowing huge leads in the end. They lacked veteran leadership and guidance which is why they added Grant Hill to the mix. With Chauncey Billups making a comeback, the Clippers will have the veteran leadership and poise that they lacked last season.

Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are an amazing tandem. There’s no questioning their scoring ability, but what’s important is how they fare on the defense. Paul has been slowed down by injuries, but he’s still the undisputed number 1 point guard in the game. His defense will be crucial for the Clippers if they want to make serious noise in the Western Conference.

Deandre Jordan is also an interesting subject when looking at the Clippers. Jordan worked hard this summer on his game, and has shown glimpses of his hard work during preseason. If Jordan can be more of an offensive threat rather than just being a “tip in” or garbage guy type of player, the Clippers will be very special.

The Clippers have a legit shot to make it out of the West as long as CP3 and the gang remain healthy. The question is… Will they?

2.)    Denver Nuggets

The Lakers aren’t the only team in the West that benefitted from the Dwight Howard trade. In fact, the Denver Nuggets got a great gift for being one of the facilitators of the Howard blockbuster deal. The Nuggets gave up Aaron Afflalo and Al Harrington in exchange for Andre Iguodala!

The Nuggets got a steal in Iggy. Not only is he a major upgrade from Afflalo (although Afflalo is a good player as well), they were able to get rid of Al Harrington’s contract! The black hole is officially out of Mile High city!

Now, the Nuggets are looking very scary with Iguodala in the mix. George Karl’s Nuggets will run, run, and run some more! With Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, and Javale McGee; Iggy will have a lot of options on offense. Whether he’s acting as a facilitator or in the receiving end of Lawson’s passes, Iguodala will catapult the Nuggets to the upper ranks in the West.

But the best part about Iggy isn’t his offense. It’s his performance on the other side of the court. Iguodala is known to be one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. His elite defense is just what the Nuggets need to be serious playoff contenders. If the Nuggets have any shot to overthrow the Thunder and fend off the Lakers, Iguodala must play his best basketball.