Former Los Angeles Clippers star Corey Maggette backed the Houston Rockets to come out on top in the Western Conference ahead of the Golden State Warriors game as he feels they are hungrier than the reigning champions.

Steve Kerr’s side were tipped to make a fourth straight final having dominated the last three seasons, James Harden and company have shown that they are more than capable of challenging the Warriors after beating them to the top spot in the regular season.

The Rockets are currently leading the Minnesota Timberwolves 3-1 in the first round of the playoffs courtesy of their 119-100 win on Monday night and will be favorites to progress to the Western Conference semi-finals, where they will play either Utah Jazz or Oklahoma City Thunder.

Maggette believes the Warriors, who are also 3-1 up against the San Antonio Spurs, are struggling without Stephen Curry. The point guard is currently sidelined with a grade two MCL sprain to his left knee, but is expected to return for the second round of the playoffs.

Despite his imminent return, the former Clippers star has picked the Rockets, not only to progress from the West, but to win the NBA Championship in 2018. Maggette feels a small amount of complacency has set in for the Warriors having made three straight finals.

“Houston is hungry. That’s probably the most dangerous team in the West because they’re so hungry. You have so many guys on that team that have something to prove,” Maggette told ClutchPoints.

“If I had to pick a team right now that would have a better chance at getting out of the west, I’d pick Houston. I think when you’re hungry and you’re determined, not to take anything away from GS, but it gives you a chance to want to take stuff from people.

“I’m gonna have to go with Houston. For some reason, I just think Golden State is still bored, and they haven’t found their mojo,” the former Clippers and Warriors star added. “They are the defending champions, but this year, the best ability is availability, right now, they don’t have one of their main guys available, so that puts a lot of pressure on them. I’m gonna go on a limb and say the Houston Rockets win the NBA Championship.”

Maggette also picked Harden as his favorite to win the MVP this season, despite coming up against four-time MVP LeBron James. The debate has raged on about, who is the most deserving, with Kobe Bryant and Curry picking the Rockets point guard over the Cavaliers star.

“Chris Paul hasn’t made it out of the 2nd round in his entire career, so he has something to prove. James Harden over the last three years was an MVP candidate. This year will probably be the first year that he was the clear favorite to me,” Maggette said.