Talk about pressure.
Las Vegas oddsmakers peg the Lakers at 5-2 to win the crown next June, ahead of defending champion Miami (9-2) and runner-up Oklahoma City (9-4). Chicago and San Antonio are both at 10-1 to win it all.
In the course of just a few days this summer, the Lakers went from being playoff castoffs to legitimate contenders, thanks mainly to the arrival of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. The four-team trade that sent Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia and brought D12 to L.A. was a game-changer for Los Angeles, especially considering that premier power forward Pau Gasol was not uprooted and remains with the Lakers.
Yet, being a championship-looking team on paper and actually going onto the court and achieving that are two vastly different realities. The Lakers will be hard-pressed to get to another finals and ultimately win their 17th world championship.
The Lakers will encounter numerous roadblocks, both real and imagined, along the way to a title. They will need hard work, tremendous coaching, career years from role players and luck to get to the NBA's promised land.
In a recent poll conducted by L.A. Times beat writer Mark Medina, an overwhelming 91 percent of respondents predicted that the Lakers would win the championship this season.
A lot of pieces must fall into place for that to happen. Let's take a look at the obstacles that could impede the Lakers' march to victory next June.