May 21, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) reacts to a play against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half in game five of the Western Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Are the Lakers the Team to Beat in the West Now?

After losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2nd round of the playoffs, The Los Angeles Lakers have made some serious upgrades to their roster this off-season.

Not only were they able to sign free agent and potential hall of famed Steve Nash, they landed the biggest prize of all, Dwight Howard. And somehow they were able to do it by only giving up Andrew Bynum, and a few players who probably wont see the court. Even without the addition of Howard the Lakers would be feared across the league with a starting lineup that featured Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, & Andrew Bynum. Only a few teams would have been able to compete with that team. Now with the addiditon of Dwight Howard the Lakers get rid of the inconsistencies of Andrew Bynum. When Bynum plays to his potential the drop off from Howard to Bynum is minuscule, but the bottom line is that Andrew Bynum is lazy and sometimes just doesn’t care. Dwight Howard has a extremely high motor and can grab 15 rebounds on a bad night.

The Lakers now have 4 players who normally demand the defense to pay attention to them with double teams, but double teaming any 1 player on this Laker roster would be suicide now. We aren’t even talking about the fact that the Lakers also signed free agents Antwan Jamison and Jodi Meeks, who both can shoot the lights out if left open. Or the fact that they now have a proven back up point guard in Chris Duhon now, who also came along with Dwight Howard.

Before this blockbuster trade happened I would have said the Oklahoma City Thunder were the team to beat in the West. The Thunder easily handled the Lakers in almost all their meetings last season. But now, with Nash running the tempo, and Dwight Howard down low neutralizing eveything that comes in the paint, I wouldnt be so fast in picking the Thunder to come out the West this year.

The Lakers are straight up scary, especially for a young team like the Hornets.

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