2010-11 NBA Predictions: Los Angeles Lakers Back To the Finals

Odds to Win the NBA Title:  The Miami Heat might have been the hot topic this offseason, but the Los Angeles Lakers are still the defending champions and are not to be forgotten.  The NBA lines makers agree, but put the Lakers odds just behind Miami's.  LA is at 3-to-1, which means about a 33 percent chance of repeating this year.

Odds to Win the West: There is no uncertainty in my mind that the LA Lakers are the team to beat out West.  They have won three straight Western Conference titles and are offered at minus-130 to make it a fourth according to the latest NBA odds.  That gives the Lakers a 55 percent prospect of getting the job done.

Strengths: The obvious strength here is Kobe Bryant.  He creates his own shots at will, drives, and is the best finisher in the NBA.  Last season, he dealt with injuries to his knee and finger which corresponded to a decline in his average point and rebound totals.  Kobe had surgery to fix his knee the offseason, so it will be fascinating to see if he will have the same quickness.  Even if it does I'm not worried since he depends more on his physique than quickness.

The other strength of this team comes with its post players, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.  Gasol was remarkable again last year, and is the perfect compliment to Bryant.  He is good at hitting the mid-range jumper and can pass as well as any big man in the league.  He spreads the court not only for Bryant, but for Bynum down on the block.

Bynum is a huge body who can score down low and blocks shots on defense.  If he can stay healthy for a full year, you can expect him to be in the All-Star game come February.

The Lakers seem to fly under the radar on defense, but this team was outstanding on that side of the floor a year ago.  Signing Ron Artest gave the Lakers four solid defenders in the starting lineup, enough to make up for opposing guards being quicker than Der...

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