It was a hard road back, for the Lakers, en route to claiming another NBA Championship. Now that they have, they look primed to hold onto this trophy for another year.
The NBA season is long and allows for many road bumps along the way. If the Lakers get derailed on their quest for back to back titles it will be because of one or several of these reasons.
Injuries are the fastest way to derail any team. They could not overcome a season ending injury or a playoff time injury to Kobe or Pau. They have the depth to handle an injury to any other player, however, health at playoff time is a major factor. If this is the season Bynum stays healthy then this team has the chance to go down as one of the all-time greats.
There is an unlimted number of ways Captain Crazy could derail a title defense.
The drive and heart of last year's team was often directly attributed to the previous season's failure in the Finals. Most notably there was a difference in the ferocity of Pau's play.
Will he and the rest of the team come out with the same intensity?
It is hard to imagine Phil and Kobe letting the heart of this team fall off a notch, but it is not out of the realm of possibilities.
Is at the position once ruled by this man. The concern is not on the offensive end, but when the other team's Point Guard has the ball.
The Lakers were pushed to the brink last year by a depleted Rockets team. This was largely due to the Lakers lack of a defensive answer for the ultra quick Aaron Brooks.
The Spurs look to be the Lakers stiffest competion in the West. Who is going to guard Tony Parker?
Laker fans love what the Fish brings to the table. Defense, however, is not one of the items he serves for dinner.
Farmar has often been used on defense to guard the quick. He is far from being considered a defensive stopper.
His erratic game and lack of improvement, at times, make him a liability. Will this season see Farmar take steps forward in the progression of his game?
Shannon Brown blew the lid off of his unexistant expectations after he was acquired from the Bobcats last year. He made an impressive transition to the Triangle Offense and flashed brilliance while infusing spark on the defensive end.
His athleticism is off the charts. Is it too much to ask of the 6'4 Brown to be the defensive stopper on whatever Mightey Mouse the Lakers may face?
Early in camp the Lakers have been experimenting with The Machine running the Point. Time will tell if this is a legitimate plan to get him on the floor or to let him know that touching the ball does not mean you have to shoot it.
Sasha has improved his defensive game, but it is unrealistic to think that at 6'7 he could stay with the quicker Point Guards around the league.
He certainly could provide his own match-up problems on the other end.
The Lakers brain trust was apparently not concerened with this weakness as they did little to address it in the off season. Of course...
Would you take it to the hole on this guy?