Are the Los Angeles Lakers Contenders or Pretenders?

Will Leivenberg@@will_leivenbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2012

No team is as frustrating or perplexing as today's Los Angeles Lakers, which is why deciphering their future is especially complex. Dysfunctional management, veteran players, various injuries, and a palpable lack of chemistry make this team a serious conundrum. But they have that one thing almost no other team can boast, the one claim that analysts and experts keep floating: a team built to win now.

Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash instill confidence in their fans, and intimidation in their opponents, that they can be the most competitive team in the NBA. Despite early struggles, right now they belong in the middle of contenders and pretenders.

The real question is how quickly this team can once again adapt to new circumstances with a brand new coach in Mike D'Antoni.  It's especially tough to judge since D'Antoni is known for his up-tempo offense, which will challenge a slower, older team like the Lakers; not to mention their defense has been their biggest problem and D'Antoni is not known as a problem solver on that front. 

The Lakers future may be up in the air, but what do you think? Please leave a comment below on whether you believe the Los Angeles Lakers are pretenders of contenders.

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