Los Angeles, San Antonio, Denver: Who Is The Best In The West?

Brandon RibakSenior Writer IJuly 23, 2009

After receiving a ton of reads and responses to my "Beast of the East" article that I published yesterday, I have decided to move onto the wild wild west and discuss the top three teams in the Conference and the reasoning behind it.

After winning the championship last season, the Los Angeles Lakers headed into the offseason with all the confidence in the world to make a repeat during the upcoming 09'-10' season.

With the loss of Trevor Ariza, the signing of Ron Artest, and Lamar Odom's status literally up in the air, are the Los Angeles Lakers the guaranteed one seed in the West?

Let's take a look.

The Lakers starting lineup will look a little something like this next season,

Derek Fisher at the point, Kobe Bryant at the two, Ron Artest at SF, Pau Gasol at the four, and Andrew Bynum as the starting center would make for an excellent lineup.

With or without Lamar Odom, the Lakers starting five are arguably the most powerful lineup in the entire league, clearly isolating themselves at the cream of the crop from the rest of the Western Conference.

Assuming Odom does re-sign with the Lakers (there are reports that LA and Odom are back in contract talks), LA instantly separates their organization from every other team in the entire league with the strongest roster in the NBA.

As defending champions, they certainly deserve the gratitude and respect to rank as No. 1.

But with the addition of another superstar (Ron Artest) to add onto a team that already has the best overall player in the league, arguably the best "second best player on a team" in Pau Gasol, the extreme potential of 7-footer Andrew Bynum, and the versatility of Lamar Odom if he re-signs; can the Lakers already be projected to win the championship before the offseason even ends?

LA ranks as the best in the west.

With that said and done, who holds the two seed in the Western Conference, San Antonio or Denver?

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