Los Angeles Lakers: Why Their Much Improved Bench Is the Key to Their Three-Peat

When you think of legitimate championship contending teams in the NBA this year, who comes to mind?

While your home team may be on the list every year, most people are thinking about these few squads: The Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics, the Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers.

While a case can also be made for the Oklahoma City Thunder, they should remain a second-teir team for this season.

Each one of these championship hopefuls has similar strengths, but a different secret weapon.

The Miami Heat's ace in the Hole is their over powering line up of superstars. The Heat's Big Three will dominate their opponents on both ends most nights, as their defense is very underrated up to this point. Everyone is talking about their array of offensive guns, but what really sets them apart is the instinct they possess on the defensive end.

The Orlando Magic's big gun is none other than Dwight Howard. This year he will prove to be more vital than ever to his team, as his post presence could be just what the Magic need to disrupt the Heat come playoffs time.

The Celtic's are packing a new punch this year with Rajon Rondo, as he will continue to become more and more vital to the teams success. His minutes are up, he's already set two assist records in three games and his confidence seems to be boiling over these days. The strength of the Celtics has always been their unity as a team, but Rondo will serve as their go to problem solver when things get rough in the postseason.

Finally, the Los Angeles Lakers have a Trojan Horse of their own.

Even as recent as last year, the Lakers' secret weapon has been Kobe Bryant.

Who else? He's the closer. The man. The last-shot maker.

While Kobe will still be the Lakers' big threat for seasons to come, the new secret weapon of this squad in the regenerated bench mob.

With a new group Phil Jackson has nicknamed "The Renegade...

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