Los Angeles Lakers Are The Best Of The NBA's Super Six Championship Contenders
These days, it seems pretty easy to have a good laugh if you’re a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
L.A. is the reigning king of professional basketball, having run through the competition in back-to-back seasons to capture consecutive championships.
Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol have led the charge as the best one-two punch we’ve seen in the league since the days of Shaq and Kobe.
With head coach Phil Jackson back for another year of guiding the most talent-laden team in the sport, it looks like the Lakers should be the favorite to add another ring to their collection.
It won’t be an easy road, though.
The teams over on the East Coast have bulked up in order up to challenge the big boy of the league.
The Miami Heat have added the star power, while the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics have both regrouped for another high powered run.
There are a few teams this year that have a real chance to open up some eyes around the league, but as it looks now, there are only a select few that look like they can really contend for the big prize at the end of the road.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder
It would be hard to justify Kevin Durant as being the league’s top overall player, considering he’s yet to win a playoff series. But you can bet that the 6'9 forward is at least in the conversation.
Durant has taken this franchise to another level with his outstanding talents. Oklahoma City made a 27-win improvement last season and it looks like the best days are still ahead of this team.
Russell Westbrook is one of the brightest young players in the NBA, and this nucleus made up of Jeff Green, James Harden, and Thebo Sefolosha has the potential to do some great things in the future.
The Thunder are the NBA’s team of the future, but it’s unclear just when they’ll take that next step up the ladder.
This team may not be ready to bring down the Lakers in the West quite yet, but with Durant as the centerpiece, Oklahoma City has the chance to make a big playoff push this season.
5. Utah Jazz
Utah’s Deron Williams could possibly be the most underrated player in the NBA today. Although you can bet every Jazz fan realizes his value and what he’s worth to this team.
During Deron’s four seasons in Utah, the Jazz have been the definition of steady, topping the 50-game mark in three out of the last four seasons.
Last year’s leading scorer, Carlos Boozer, may not be as missed if Paul Millsap develops into a quality starter.
Millsap and the newly acquired Al Jefferson could give Williams the help he needs to elevate this team into a true contender in the Western Conference.
4. Boston Celtics
The trio of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen has a combined 38 seasons of NBA playing experience under their belt, but sadly for Celtics fans, that experience just wasn’t enough to pull out a victory in Game 7 of last year’s NBA Finals.
Many assumed that was the last hurrah for the aging threesome, but it looks like the three weren’t satisfied with just one title in their short time together.
Boston re-signed Allen and head coach Doc Rivers made the decision to return after taking a look at all the talent on this roster.
Point Guard Rajon Rondo is the youngest of Boston’s stars but he might be the most important player on the team this season.
The additions of Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal won’t make the Celtics any younger, but it does make them bigger. That size will give them a needed advantage over the Heat and a boost when trying to stop Orlando’s Dwight Howard.
This season looks to be the team’s last real shot before they ride off into the sunset.
3. Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic have put up 59 wins in consecutive seasons and it certainly wouldn't be shocking if the team made a run at that total this season.
The success starts with superstar big man Dwight Howard, who averaged 18 points a game and hauled in over a thousand rebounds last season.
Howard will have a familiar supporting cast surrounding him this year with guys like Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter returning for another run.
The age of some of the key players on this team makes you wonder if the window of opportunity for the Magic to really make a deep playoff run could be closing quickly.
With Howard down low, this team will always have enough to make some noise, but coach Stan Van Gundy knows this season could be the one that’s the real make-or-breaker.
2. Miami Heat
Hey did you hear the news?
The Miami Heat got themselves a new player this year.
Juwan Howard signed with the Heat for the veteran’s minimum back in July.
Now it’s true that Howard, who’s 37 years of age, has seen his better days in the league, but expect the 6‘9 power forward to bring a strong veteran presence to a team that is in need of some experience and wisdom.
Look for head coach Erik Spoelstra and Dwyane Wade to really welcome Howard with open arms.
Miami also picked up a few other quality players such as Eddie House, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, LeBron James, Mike Miller, and Chris Bosh who should each be a solid contributor as well.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
New year, same Lake show.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been the reigning champions of the NBA for over two years and until someone steps up and knocks them off their pedestal, they must be considered the best squad in the NBA without a doubt.
This season, Kobe Bryant is looking to add a sixth ring to his fingers, which would move him into a tie with the game's all-time greatest player, Michael Jordan.
There’s no doubt L.A. has the talent and the capability to send coach Phil Jackson off into retirement wearing a nice big smile.
Bryant, Gasol, Odom, Artest, Fisher: all the big names are back and once center Andrew Bynum recovers from knee surgery in December, this team should be back at full strength and ready to take on all challengers.
If complacency hasn’t set in for Kobe after years of success and championships, what makes you think it’s about to set in now?
This team is still hungry and they still expect to be looking down from the top of the mountain when all is said and done.
Five Teams That Could Surprise
1. Portland Trail Blazers
2. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Milwaukee Bucks
4. Memphis Grizzlies
5. Houston Rockets
Five Teams That Could Disappoint
1. Dallas Mavericks
2. San Antonio Spurs
3. Atlanta Hawks
4. Chicago Bulls
5. Phoenix Suns