The Los Angeles Lakers is the team to beat—here's why:
7. Coaching Staff
Members of this coaching staff have won at least three titles and, of course, Phil Jackson has won nine. The result is that they are one of the best in the league at adjusting in mid-games and from game to game, which is key in the playoffs.
6. Bench Play
Kobe Bryant thinks this team is the best in the league...and rightfully so.
They have guys like Farmar and Vujacic who can score and defend at a very high level. In addition, they have the versatility of Walton; the athleticism and defense of Ariza; the three-point shooting of Radmanovic; and the skill of "Dennis Rodman Y2K" Ronny Turiaf who rebounds, blocks shots, has great hustle, and can step out to 20 feet and hit a shot. When he's healthy, Chris Mihm has a great impact, as well.
5. Team Offense
This team is the third best in scoring at 110.1 PPG and the best in the half court, which is huge in the playoffs. And this is still without Bynum. This team will be very tough to hold to less than 100 points in the playoffs.
They also have great three-point shooting, ranking seventh in the league with guys like Fisher, Farmar, Vujacic, Bryant, Odom, Radmanovic, and Ariza who can all hit the three consistently.
4. Veteran Leadership
There are two players who have won three championships (Kobe and Fisher) and two who have made it to the finals (Walton and Mbenga). The Lakers have enough experience with Kobe and Fisher. If anybody would see the way they prepare the team for every game and mentor these youngsters they wouldn't be surprised that they are the best in the west at 41-17.
3. They are the Hungriest Team
Kobe has put hunger into this team. Every question regarding how far the team can go or what the goal is receives the same response: We are here to win a championship and we are not ready to go for less.
When a reporter asked Vujacic if he was exhausted after the team's seventh game of a nine-game road trip (where they went 7-2) he replied: "If you are a team that's on a mission to win a championship, then no matter how tired you are you have to give it all you got."
The Lakers have the best frontcourt in the NBA in C Andrew Bynum, PF Pau Gasol, and SF Lamar Odom. These are all guys who can put up 20 points, 10 rebounds, and more than two blocks a night. That's going to be huge in the playoffs.
1. Kobe Bryant
The Lakers have the best player in the league in Kobe. With his clutch defense and the best offensive skills, he can win two to three games in a series all by himself.