With training camp around the corner, we asked a group of local and national roundball experts to weigh in on some of the big Lakers questions heading into the 2010-2011 season. Call it a preseason prognosticationpallooza.
Our panel: Andy and Brian Kamenetzky (ESPNLA.com Land O'Lakers Blog), Elliott Teaford (L.A. Daily News), Kevin Ding (O.C. Register), Kevin Arnovitz (ESPN TrueHoop), Eric Pincus (Hoopsworld), Chris Clark (Silver Screen and Roll), J.A. Adande (ESPN.com), Darius Soriano (Forum Blue and Gold), Kurt Helin (ProBasketballTalk.com), Mark Medina (L.A. Times.com), Arash Markazi (ESPNLA.com), and Dave McMenamin (ESPNLA.com)Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
The Lakers believe in their chances to make it three titles in a row.
Will the Lakers repeat?
My response: Yes. At the end of the day, there is no other team with a better combination of talent, championship experience and dudes capable of crunch time greatness. They've also grown into an often-smothering defensive unit, for all the talk about Kobe Bryant's and Pau Gasol's scoring abilities. Plus, doesn't Phil Jackson retiring on his fourth Three-peat feel right?
Brian Kamenetzky: Yes. It won't be easy and as it was last year, there will be moments that look bleak, but when it's all said and done, they're still the best team in the NBA for at least one more year.
Teaford: Yessir, but they have to do themselves the favor of holding home-court advantage, as they have the last two seasons. If not, then things could get tough if they have to try to win a Game 7 in Miami or Boston or Orlando.AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
The last NBA team to win three championships in a row just happened to feature Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson.
Pincus: The Lakers are the reigning champions and they’ve gotten better. So have the Celtics. The Heat may be contenders as well. If LA can avoid the injury bug, they should be able to repeat though it certainly won’t be an easy road.
Clark: Yes. The Lakers have well established that they are superior to every team in the league, save the one that nobody has seen yet in South Florida. The Heat represent the great unknown, and certainly have the potential to derail the Lakers. But I give the Lakers the nod, as the Lakers biggest offensive strength (superior - and large - inside play) is the Heat's biggest defensive weakness, while the Heat's biggest offensive strength (superior perimeter play) goes against the Lakers biggest defensive strength (the best array of perimeter defenders in the league). It's no accident: The Lakers are built to beat
the Heat, and the Heat are not built to beat the Lakers.
Soriano: Yes. With Phil potentially retiring and the motivation stemming from the Miami super team forming, I think the Lakers push to cement themselves as one of the great teams of the past 25 years.
Helin: Magic 8 ball says ask again later.
Medina: Yes. As easy as it might be for the Lakers to be complacent after back-to-back titles, there are several elements that will help make this possible. The team is well-rested. The Lakers will want to win one for Phil Jackson's supposed last
season. They'll want to prove that Miami isn't a super team. And the team compiled some new faces to help infuse a spark plug.
Markazi: Yes. I don't think they will be challenged much in the West and I'm guessing whoever the play in the East is going to have a tougher go, so I'm taking the Lakers to win it all again.
McMenamin: Yes. Too deep. Too experienced. Too driven. Too well-coached. Too talented. Too long. Too much Mamba and Pau and Ron and the rest. Two titles in a row become three.