The Miami Heat have been the talk of the offseason. Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and the cast of characters populating the rest of the lineup have been touted as the favorites to win the 2010-2011 NBA Finals.
Something tells me there's a team in Los Angeles that won't go down easy. And I'm not talking about the Clippers.
The Los Angeles Lakers should still be regarded as the favorite to win the title this season, for a number of reasons.
First of all, it starts at the top. Phil Jackson is one of the most decorated coaches of all time. With 11 NBA titles to his name, there's no one else I would rather have leading a team. His players know his system inside and out; it's a team built on continuity and a will to win.
Erik Spoelstra, on the other hand, has done little of note in his short NBA coaching career. His career record is an admirable 90-74, but he has never had to manage this many superstars. How he will handle the egos of three superstars remains to be seen.
While coaching is very important, the game isn't one played between two coaches. The players on the floor decide the outcome.
It's a team whose core has played together for a championship run; it's not simply a collection of stars strung together in the offseason.
Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Ron Artest actually match up quite well with Wade's Heat team. In a seven-game series, there's no way to say that the Heat would automatically be the favorites.
With Artest guarding LeBron and Bryant shadowing Wade, you have two of the best perimeter defenders in the league checking the best two scoring options on the Heat.
Match Gasol with Bosh down low, and it's practically a wash.
The benches of each team are actually quite similar as well. Perimeter scorers can be found on each team in the form of the Heat's Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers and Eddie House, and the Lakers' Matt Barnes, Sasha Vujacic and Steve Blake.
With the talent on the floor matching up rather evenly, the advantage must go to the Lakers. Between Jackson's coaching and Kobe Bryant's unparalleled will and ability to win games, it's tough to give the nod to the Heat in a long series.
While it's difficult to project the Heat and the Lakers playing in the finals before the season even starts, it's clearly the matchup that is the odds-on favorite to occur. Not to mention, it has to be the matchup the fans would love to see.
All of that being said, it's safe to say that fans of the NBA are in for a real treat this coming season.
Hopefully, this will finally be the season we see a LeBron-Kobe finals matchup.
Or, should we say, a Wade-Bryant matchup? After all, it's Dwyane's team.