The San Antonio Spurs have been dismissed as an NBA Finals contender by many experts and fans since their last championship in 2007.
The two-time defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers and the trendy pick, Oklahoma City, were the consensus two best Western Conference teams going into the 2010-11 season.
But the Spurs are not going to roll over, and they are a real threat to the Lakers in the West this season.
The most dangerous team is a veteran one. A team full of guys who have won titles before and won't be fazed by pressure moments in big playoff games.
Tim Duncan is the best player who doesn't get the credit he deserves.
Is he a top-10 player in NBA history? I'm not sure, but you could easily make an argument for him. Duncan is a four-time champion and a three-time NBA Finals MVP winner.
However, the most underrated person in the Spurs dominance of the last decade is their head coach, Gregg Popovich.
Popovich is an all-time coach, and in an era of players being above the coach, Popovich instantly gains the respect of every player who is around him, opponents included.
With the NBA season about to enter December, the San Antonio Spurs have the best record in the league at 14-2.
Can the Spurs beat the Lakers in a 7 game series?
They are 9-1 in their last 10 games, but like every great team, the Spurs have been amazing on the road, and are the only team in the league that hasn't lost on the road yet.
Depth is the key to every NBA team that wants to be a legitimate championship contender. The Spurs have several players who can win a game by themselves.
Tony Parker is an elite NBA point guard, leading the Spurs in assists and steals this season. Shooting guard Manu Ginobili is leading the team in scoring, averaging 21.5 ppg. Ginobili is the most underrated player in the NBA, and although he's never had a career or breakout season, he has been a model of consistency.
Tim Duncan continues to be a major part of the Spurs success, and has adapted to not being the Spurs' best player by leading the team in rebounds and blocks, while adding over 13 ppg.
Popovich's bench is one of the better units in the league, and center Matt Bonner, point guard George Hill and forward Antonio McDyess could start on many NBA teams.
San Antonio's second-round pick in last year's draft, Dejuan Blair, has proven he can be very effective as a post player despite being undersized for a center or power forward.
The wild card for the Spurs is Richard Jefferson. Jefferson did not have a good first season in San Antonio last year, but if he plays well and provides timely scoring, he could make the Spurs the team to beat in the West.
There is no team the Spurs can't match up against. Many teams that fail in the playoffs time and time again (Orlando) do so because they have certain matchups other teams frequently take advantage of.
San Antonio can play a quick team, or a big and physical one.
The San Antonio Spurs are well coached, play solid defense and have a roster of proven big-game players.
They are a team every NBA team should fear, and will no doubt make a serious run toward the NBA Finals.
The Spurs are an older team, and likely do not have many more seasons left as a real title contender; but Duncan and Popovich are not done adding accolades to their Hall of Fame resumes yet.