As a player, I never liked to make predictions for the upcoming season. My goal each year was to win the NBA championship. Why settle for anything less?

It has been more than a decade since I played in my final NBA game, and my approach remains the same. But ask any NBA player and he'll tell you that sometimes he gets a feeling about a certain team. It's tough to describe, but when you're around a group of men who work well together and are focused on one goal, you can sense something special.

That's how I feel about this year's Houston Rockets. Without making any specific predictions, I can confidently say that this year's group has as good a chance to win the NBA title as any Houston squad has had in the past 15 years.

It doesn't take an NBA insider to know that the Rockets will be contenders for the Western Conference crown. One year after adding James Harden, Houston has signed perhaps the best center in the league, Dwight Howard. Last year’s "new-look Rockets" have one season together, and they are ready to take another step toward an NBA title.

But before I discuss the players, it's important to mention that we wouldn’t be talking about Houston's title chances if it weren't for the incredible foresight of owner Les Alexander. He put the pieces in place for this team by hiring CEO Tad Brown and GM Darryl Morey. They, in turn, brought in Kevin McHale, a man whom I respected tremendously as a player and who has welcomed me onto the staff as a player development specialist.

It was this strong core that helped convince Dwight to sign in Houston. And while you may not have heard from Dwight recently, I can assure you after spending several days working with him in Aspen, Colo., that he is in a great place mentally. Dwight knows he made the right choice, and he is comfortable with his teammates and coaches. It’s safe to say he is in the best position of his career.

During my time in Aspen I also got to know Jeremy Lin, and I could not be more impressed with his work ethic. He was very eager to work with Dwight on the pick-and-roll, and together they will make a formidable duo.

Houston will be a force to be reckoned with during the 2013-14 season. People around town can’t wait for the season to tip off and for this squad to prove that it is a contender for an NBA title.

You can sense the excitement in the city, and that’s the way it should be.


To read more from Hakeem Olajuwon, check out these links:

--Reflections on Houston's Hall of Fame coach, Guy Lewis.
--A look back at the legendary summer workouts at Fonde Recreation Center.