Editor's note: We asked our panel of NBA experts, "Who will win the NBA title?"
1. Los Angeles Lakers: 7 votes
Chris Broussard, ESPN Mag:
The combination of Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol is just too much.
Ric Bucher, ESPN The Mag:
Bynum's finishing at the rim and patrolling the paint changes everything.
Chad Ford, ESPN.com:
This is the year Kobe finally will take home an NBA title without Shaq.
Mark Jackson, ESPN:
The Celtics lost James Posey, but the Lakers got Bynum back.
Jackie MacMullan, ESPN.com:
GM Mitch Kupchak will make another midseason deal to put them over the top.
Chris Palmer, ESPN The Mag:
There is still no single player in the league who has a greater drive or desire to win than Kobe Bryant. No way will he get denied two years in a row.
Jalen Rose, ESPN
2. Boston Celtics: 5 votes
Maurice Brooks, ESPN.com:
Yes, they'll miss James Posey, but they still play the best D in the league and have three players who aren't afraid to take and make the big shot.
John Hollinger, ESPN.com:
Defense will reign for another year.
Tim Legler, ESPN:
KG is simply too competitive and driven to become satisfied with one ring. They will miss Posey, but their defense and rebounding will dominate.
Jack Ramsay, ESPN Radio
Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com:
On the road this time, in five over the Rockets.
T-3. Houston Rockets: 2 votes
Scoop Jackson, ESPN.com
Keith Lipscomb, ESPN.com Fantasy:
Yao will miss fewer than 25 games for the first time in four seasons. Things will finally come together for Adelman's first NBA title.
T-3. New Orleans Hornets: 2 votes
Henry Abbott, ESPN.com's TrueHoop:
It's Chris Paul time.
J.A. Adande, ESPN.com
T-3. San Antonio Spurs: 2 votes
Marc Stein, ESPN.com:
Of all those perennial 50-win teams in the West, only one has proven it can win it all. Yet everyone is writing that team off. I think they have another title run left in them.
David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.:
The Spurs were the best team last season but lost because of Manu Ginobili's injury. I like their bench more now than a year ago to serve as catalysts for another title.