Fox Sports: For the past decade, it didn’t take a lot of keen perspective while peering into the foggy crystal ball known as NBA preseason predictions to recognize the uniforms of the San Antonio Spurs. They did win four of nine titles from 1999 to 2007 and were favorites again last season when they came up short in the Western Conference finals to the Los Angeles Lakers.
And it certainly wouldn’t be a stretch to put the Spurs in the mix again to win the West. But this time around the Lakers are not coming out of nowhere. They are not just a bunch of upstarts around 2008 MVP Kobe Bryant … in fact, until their bench’s collapse in the Finals to the Celtics in June, many believed them to have the best depth in the NBA.
So as we take a look at the West this time around, it’s impossible not to have great expectations for the Lakers with Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Co. playing for coach Phil Jackson, who just happens to have the best winning percentage of all time in both the regular season and postseason.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
OK, Lakers fans, you can start breathing again now that it is apparent Kobe Bryant’s knee hyperextension this week was a false alarm. The more interesting analysis will be whether or not Phil Jackson opts to bring Lamar Odom off the bench, how well Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will fit together, and whether Jordan Farmar is ready to take over as the starting point guard.