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Los Angeles Lakers' Chance at a Repeat: Examining the Other Contenders

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates on stage during the 2009 NBA Championship Victory Parade at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on June 17, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Prashant ShuklaContributor IJuly 8, 2009

In order to judge a possible dynasty I feel like you have to look at the other contenders.

The Cavs upgraded with Shaq. We would have beaten the Cavs pretty easily in 2009 if they made it to the finals—this addition simply puts them in the discussion.

But, now the Lakers got better as well (in terms of talent + guarding LBJ). The Cavs are somewhat of a threat, but if we re-sign LO and everyone is healthy, we will beat them in a seven game series.

The Spurs look to be healthier and added young Richard Jefferson. We beat the Spurs in 2008 but Ginobili was a bit injured. It was a close series, but we didn't have Bynum or Ariza.

Now that we have Bynum and an upgrade with Artest, if the entire Spurs team can stay healthy, this is a pretty even matchup in my opinion with the Spurs' additions.

The Nuggets haven’t made any big changes yet, and if they don’t, they won’t be a real contender.

The Celtics won the title in '08, but they were pretty unconvincing in doing so, even against LA (except for game six). They beat us without Bynum and Ariza, and I feel like if we had those pieces we would have been champions in '08.

Regardless, they are back to '08 form with KG minus James Posey but with a new-and-improved Rondo. They've also added Rasheed Wallace. But, Bynum and Artest are better than Wallace.

It looks like we would be able to handle them like we didn’t do in '08 because we are MUCH better without the injuries in '08 and the Artest addition, and they are marginally better than the 2008 Celtics (remember the Big Three are aging as well).

The Magic have lost Turkoglu, Gortat, and Lee, while they’ve added Vince. I think, AT BEST, they’ve stayed even, and we’ve improved with Artest after already beating them pretty easily in the '09 finals. I think the Lakers would handle them if things don’t change much.

All in all, I see the order of highest threat to repeat to lowest threat as:
Spurs, Celtics, Cavs, Magic, Nuggets.

The Celtics have a big time player coming back from injury plus a new addition, but we didn't have two key players when we faced them in '08.

If the Spurs come back healthy and Jefferson is effective, they look scary, but again we beat them in '08 without Bynum and Ariza, and now we’ve upgraded Ariza to Artest.

The net change from the 2008 matchup between the Lakers and Spurs becomes:

A healthy Ginobili (injured in '08) + Richard Jefferson VERSUS Bynum + Artest. I'd take Bynum and Artest in that matchup, but even if that is a wash, the Lakers still have the edge after winning in 2008 against the Spurs.

The drop-off after that in my opinion is pretty steep. The Cavs and the Magic are still one piece away.

All-in-all there is a good shot the Lakers can repeat if they stay healthy and driven, but look for other teams to make more moves from now until before the trade deadline in February.

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