The Los Angeles Lakers' hopes for a three-peat do not rest in the hands of star guard Kobe Bryant, but rather in the strong cast of interior players the Lakers have at their disposal.
Leading the charge from the post are twin seven-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, who have the opportunity to be the most dominant interior combo in the league this season.
No other team in the NBA has two seven-footers who are as skilled and talented as Bynum and Gasol. Plus, the contrast in their styles allow them to complement each other on the court.
Bynum is younger and more physical than Gasol, and his tough defense while playing injured was one of the main reasons the Lakers were able to win a tough NBA Finals series over the Boston Celtics.
Of course Bynum's main struggle has been his inability to avoid injury, but assuming he can eventually make it through a season unscathed, he stands as one of the most polished young centers in the NBA.
Bynum benefited from the tutelage of Lakers' great Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, and it shows up in his clean footwork and ability to play offense with his back to the basket.
Once Bynum receives the ball in the post, he is able to spin to either shoulder and finish with either hand, but his imposing presence on the defensive end is what really makes him valuable to the Lakers.
Bynum is the last line of defense once the Lakers have been penetrated, and although he doesn't block a multitude of shots, he does alter the course of many, and he makes it difficult to finish at the rim.
Gasol may be the most fundamentally sound post player in the NBA, and his intelligence and instincts in the paint make him a perfect fit for the Lakers' triangle offense.
Gasol is equally efficient with either hand, and he has range on his jump shot that extends up to 15 feet.
Gasol does not have the reputation of a physical defensive player, but he still manages to be effective because he understands how to use his length and has excellent footwork in the paint.
The primary responsibility for directing traffic in the paint usually falls on Gasol's shoulders, and his passing ability is just as important as his ability to score from any angle.
Bynum and Gasol combined to average 33 points and 19 rebounds while shooting 55 percent from the field, and even though those are impressive numbers, they may need to be even better next season.
The interior will be the Lakers' main area of strength in 2010-11. While there are capable backups on the roster in Lamar Odom and Theo Ratliff, the Lakers' fate may hinge on the health and performances of Gasol and Bynum.
Both players have shown the ability to dominate at times. This is crucial, since few teams will be able to match Bynum and Gasol in terms of size and talent.
Bryant will receive most of the attention and fans are anxious to see how he performs with an offseason of rest, and the chance to recover from knee and hand injuries.
But even Bryant knows the chances of the Lakers winning three consecutive titles for the second time in a decade lie not in his ability to score points, but rather in the towering presences of Gasol and Bynum.