The championship chances for the Los Angeles Lakers have seemingly gone from contenders to favorites in a matter of a few weeks.
This, of course, has to do with the acquisition of star center Dwight Howard just months after obtaining the services of Steve Nash earlier in the summer as well.
Now armed with what resembles an All-Star team in their starting five, the Lakers could be on their way to the NBA Finals and a shot at the title.
Let's take a look at seven reasons in particular as to why the Lake Show can finish this season on top of the NBA kingdom.
The last thing you want to do is get Lakers fans all riled up about their team.
It's a hard task to accomplish to go into the Staples Center against the Lakers on any given night, but now that they have Dwight Howard and Steve Nash suiting up in the purple and gold, it's going to be a whole new monster.
Lakers fans have never been accused of not defending their team, and there will be plenty of that going on in Los Angeles during next season. Don't expect a whole lot of teams to walk out of the Staples Center with a win or their hearing.
One of the most important aspects to the Lakers succeeding next season is the versatility of their roster.
In the starting five, you have a guard who can score from anywhere on the floor, a finesse big man with shooting range and a powerful center who can do serious damage down low. To top it all off, you have a point guard with his own shooting touch and some of the best court vision and playmaking in the NBA.
Even on the bench, you will find some quality backups for Los Angeles. Antawn Jamison may be well past his prime, but he should fill into his limited minutes nicely. His game bears similar qualities to the man he is backing up in Pau Gasol, and he will have some scoring help from the likes of Jodie Meeks and Jordan Hill.
These are just a few names that make the Lakers so dangerous all-around, but the possibilities and combinations may be endless with all of that star power in their starting lineup.
Like I mentioned in the previous slide, the Lakers upgrades don't just stop in their starting five.
The additions of Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark, Chris Duhon and Jodie Meeks make the bench a lot stronger than it was compared to last year. Los Angeles struggled with a very young and inexperienced bench in the postseason and were unable to advance past the second round yet again.
Having the mixture of youth and seasoned veterans on the bench will make it a nightmare for opponents, even with guys named Kobe, Nash, Howard and Gasol off of the floor.
Having a defensive stopper like Metta World Peace was helpful for the Lakers, but not enough to shut down elite teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder.
However, World Peace now has a big friend in low places to help defend near the basket. That man is Dwight Howard.
The offense of the Lakers will be nearly unstoppable, but now that they have one of the best defensive players in the league blocking shots and grabbing rebounds, the defense will see a nice boost too.
The Lake Show isn't exactly the youngest starting five, but the younger players that blow by the perimeter defense will have to answer to D12 down low.
One thing you can't knock the Lakers for is playoff experience.
They have plenty of it on their squad, and in addition to the championship experience of Kobe and his pre-Dwight/Nash teammates, there are players hungry for their first ring.
Guys like Howard, Nash and Jamison have all been waiting for their shot to win it all, and this may be their best chance to do so. Howard, in fact, experienced the sting of defeat firsthand in 2009 when he lost in the Finals to the very same team he is now suiting up for.
Nash hasn't even seen an NBA Finals appearance in his career, but he came to Los Angeles this past Fourth of July obviously looking to change that statistic. He has seen plenty of playoff games in his day, however, so he knows very well what he is up against.
Together, all of these good and bad experiences could form together and make a cohesive unit focused on the ultimate goal of any sports team: championship glory.
Even outside the city of Los Angeles, expectations are especially high for the Lakers.
After the completion of the Dwight Howard deal, the odds were shifted in the NBA for who would go the distance and win it all. The Lakers have emerged as one of the favorites to win the Finals, with the Heat considered one of the only teams standing in their way.
Fans can be cruel in a big city like this, and they will not spare the Lakers if they fail to complete their goal of a championship. Those who are not fans may even be more cruel towards the Lakers should they stumble along their path.
If Los Angeles wants to capture a title in 2013, they will need to power through the criticism and reach their lofty goals.
The Western Conference All-Star team, I mean, the Los Angeles Lakers, are certainly not lacking in one area: weapons on offense.
All five of their starters have at one point or another in their careers, averaged at least 20 points per game. Steve Nash is an offensive weapon in his own, but he will be mostly facilitating the deadly Kobe Bryant and the post presences of Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. Kobe has proven year after year that he does not plan on letting age catch up with him anytime soon, and that he can still run with the young guns of the league.
Gasol and Howard will complement each other nicely and Metta World Peace can knock down shots when his number is called.
How can you plan to stop the Lakers when almost every player requires a double team on offense? Simple. You just can't.