The Showtime Lakers were one of the greatest teams ever. It's not even really fair to classify them as a single team because their dominance stretched for the entire decade of the '80s. The team also mixed multiple groups of players to form different incarnations that produced some of the best basketball the league has ever seen.
For the purposes of this discussion, let's focus on the team that represented the moniker "Showtime" the best and look at the group from the mid- to late '80s.
The core of those teams was Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy. In comparing those three to the Lakers' core four, we see some striking similarities.
At point guard, both teams possess a true difference-maker. Magic is the best point guard the league has ever seen, with his size (and how that translated to all-court dominance) being a key attribute.
Nash, meanwhile, is a legendary point guard in his own right and the owner of two MVP awards to back up his place in history. And while there are comparisons to be made in terms of the effectiveness of both players, the edge would have to go to Magic.
At forward, Gasol and Worthy are a very close match. Pau's size, length and versatility make him one of the game's best big men. Worthy, on the other hand, never put up eye-popping stats, but always raised his game in the playoffs and even has a Finals MVP on his resume as proof.
From a sheer talent standpoint, I'd call this a draw, with Worthy's clutch factor battling Pau's all-around game and some big playoff moments tacked on to break the tie. In the end, I'd have to go with Worthy over Pau.
At center, there's really no comparison. Not to insult Howard, but Abdul-Jabbar is one of the game's best handful of players ever, and Howard is simply his era's best big man. There's really no need to compare the two any further than to say that Kareem holds countless NBA records and won six league MVP awards. Dwight is a fantastic talent, but he's not close to Kareem's level. The edge in this matchup is clearly Kareem's.
The only player left to discuss is Kobe, and this is where things get tricky. The Showtime Lakers only had a big three and this current Lakers team has four superstars. Plus, Kobe is an all-time great in his own right. By the time he retires, he'll likely be in the top three in all-time points and, even without winning another title, will match Magic's five championships.
So, while the Showtime team has swept the three comparisons so far, Kobe makes up a lot of ground simply because that '80s group doesn't even have a player to compare him to.
Ultimately though, even with Kobe being the ultimate trump card, I'd still give the edge to the Showtime team. They have two of the top five players of all time as part of their core. It's pretty difficult to find a group better than that.