Lakers All Smiles in Los Angeles, but Road Trip Will Show True Character

Marcus WilliamsContributor IJanuary 24, 2009

With a big game coming up against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, the LA Lakers will once again defend their title as being, not only the best team in the Western Conference, but in the NBA. They currently hold the best record and are leading the league in scoring and rebounding.

Sure you could argue all day that the Cavaliers, Celtics, Spurs, and maybe the Magic all pose similar threats when it comes to talking about title contenders, but really, i don't see any of these teams winning a seven game series against the Lakers.

With all the trade rumors arising, many Laker fans are hoping that they trade away Lamar Odom. Sorry to disappoint you, but Lamar Odom wont be going anywhere for two reasons. One being that his contract is up after this season, and two, hes playing a good role off the Lakers bench, contributing to their second unit. Personally I don't think the Lakers need to make any changes, but on defense. Before the injuries of Luke Walton, Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, and Lamar Odom, the Laker's bench was leading the NBA in scoring. 

With the best bench in the NBA, and a healthy Andrew Bynum, and Trevor Ariza, the Lakers are cruising their way to another NBA finals appearance. I'm sure everybody remembers the beating they took from Boston, where they were simply out hustled, out played, and bullied right of the court. The question will not be, can the Lakers win the West, but rather whether or not they can win it all, and who will they play. I'm not saying that Ariza and Bynum will save LA, but the Lakers will definitely benefit from having them on the court instead of on the bench.

If the Lakers can maintain their defensive intensity no matter who wins the Eastern Conference this year will have a hard time beating them. Through the first quarter of the season they have already looked more physical than last year and they will defend the paint, as well as penetrating guards of opposing teams. And if the Lakers are able to stay healthy, there's no other team you can favor more to win the NBA Championship.

Yes they're all smiles in the Staples Center, and they deserve to be, but let's just wait for after this long stretch of road games they have scheduled to actually see how well they match up.