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No. 37: Houston Rockets

Last year's rank: 51
Title track: 41
Ownership: 44
Coaching: 56
Players: 21
Fan relations: 45
Affordability: 35
Stadium Experience 43
Bang for the Buck 43

After missing out on the 2012 Dwight Howard sweepstakes, the Rockets landed quite the consolation prize in James Harden, the 23-year-old 2-guard who impressively averaged 25.9 ppg, 5.8 apg, 4.9 rpg, played to a 23.0 PER and accumulated 12.8 win shares to lead the Rockets to a surprising 45-37 eight-seed in the übercompetitive Western Conference. Our ratings reflect the story coming out of Houston. It’s real, and, yes, it’s spectacular. Indeed, the Rockets improved in all eight of our categories and ranked in the NBA’s top 10 in seven of them. The biggest change? Our players ranking, of course, in which the Rockets, with Harden, PG Jeremy Lin and C Omer Asik, upped their slot to No. 21 overall, eighth best in the league. And at $45.65 a ticket, it’s still 10 percent cheaper than the
NBA average to attend a game, leading to solid rankings in affordability and bang for the buck. As for the 2013 Dwight sweepstakes, well, you know what happened.

Welcome to Houston, D12. Time for liftoff.