Does Any Team in the West Really Pose a Threat To the LA Lakers?

The Los Angeles Lakers are heavy favorites to clinch their 4th consecutive Western Conference championship, and although the conference is known for parity, the Lakers seem to defy that logic.

The Lakers upgraded their roster during the offseason, and the difficult task of unseating them became a little more complicated in the process, because in 2010-11 the Lakers will be deeper, and presumably more healthy.

The additions of Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, and Theo Ratliff will help improve an already great defensive squad, and Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum's injuries should be fully healed when the 2010-11 season commences.

On paper the Lakers should plow through a conference that will have a much different look next season, but it is likely at least one team will step up and prove to be a test for the two-time defending champions.

But, who will assume that role?

The teams most likely to challenge the Lakers in the West are the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, and San Antonio Spurs.

Some observers feel the Thunder are a strong dark horse pick to upset the Lakers, but unless Oklahoma City finds a way to significantly upgrade their post players their fate will likely mirror last season's.

Oklahoma played the Lakers tough during their first round playoff series last season, but Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka, and Nenad Kristic were no match for the the Laker's front line of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom.

The Thunder were able to hold their own in the paint, but that was against a hobbled version of Bynum, and Bryant was suffering through knee pains as well.

Russell Westbrook's penetration turned out to be a bigger problem than Kevin Durant's scoring in the series, and the addition of Barnes gives the Lakers another defensive option besides Ron Artest.

Dallas has a roster that can match the ...

About the Author