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Warriors' continuity could prove more valuable than change for the Rockets, Spurs

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An early-season comparison of the Warriors' continuity with a couple of Western Conference rivals.

The future of San Antonio.
The future of San Antonio.
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets each experienced a disappointing end to an excellent 2014-2015 season, as they both watched the Golden State Warriors move on to win the west, and the NBA Championship.

So these quality franchises can hardly be blamed for taking steps to improve their roster, adding major pieces in LaMarcus Aldridge and Ty Lawson to rosters ready to compete for a title. And in short order, pundits agreed that each team made itself a much more formidable challenger to Golden State, which did nothing to improve itself.

Perhaps it's time to reconsider the value of continuity.

The Warriors are just over a year into the Steve Kerr regime, and the key pieces of their current roster's core has been together for about three years (since Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green joined the team). And it's way too early to draw conclusions (my way of avoiding flak for drawing early conclusions with impunity), but for the third straight year, the Warriors have made an almost unprecedented leap in team efficiency metrics across the board.

Season

SRS

Offensive Rating

Defensive Rating

Pace

Win Percent

2015-2016

14.34

113.5

95.5

102.0

1.000

2014-2015

10.01

111.6

101.4

98.3

.817

2013-2014

5.15

107.5

102.6

96.2

.622

2012-2013

1.32

106.4

105.5

94.5

.573

*Per Basketball-reference.com

Even if the Warriors cannot sustain their unbelievable start (likely), even their biggest critics will concede that they are better than last year's Championship edition. Even without Stephen Curry's heroics, Harrison Barnes is more active, the team defense is even more stifling, and the turnover rate is down from the same time a year ago (the team was on a historically-awful pace to begin last season).

The same cannot be said for the Rockets and Spurs, however, as both are working to integrate significant lineup pieces in the early season. While the Spurs offense is a step slow in the early going, it's the defense that is most problematic for the Rockets. Just as the Miami Heat from a few years ago struggled for a year or more to iron out the kinks, there's real concern that these two conteders will similarly struggle. And there's no guarantee of their success: the Spurs' original core is aging, and may be a non-factor by the time Kawhi Leonard and Aldridge figure things out. And the Rockets may never return to being a strong defensive team, as Dwight Howard ages, regardless of a potential improvement to the offense.

It isn't nearly time to consider the Rockets and Spurs 'done' in 2015-2016 due to their changes. It is, however, time to start keeping an eye on these teams, and which direction they eventually trend. Given the square-peg, round-hole nature of their two key acquisitions, it's doubtful that either team figures out their lineup strategy tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Warriors enjoy another year with the same cast, that continuity could prove to be the difference in the race for Larry O'Brien's trophy in 2016.