Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the five most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
It’s a long season, we know. But who is going to stop the Lakers?
Steve Aschburner: Andrew Bynum could stop the Lakers if, the next time he gets hurt, he falls on Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, taking both of them with him to the trainer’s room. Larry David certainly could stop the Lakers if he sticks his legs out again from a “Nicholson” seat near the L.A. bench and, instead of Shaq this time, trips Kobe Bryant in some injury-inducing way. But beyond that, no one person or no one team will stop the Lakers, en route to a 69-13 finish, from sending Phil Jackson off with the fourth three-peat of his coaching career.
Fran Blinebury: Kobe‘s knee. Bynum‘s knee. Maybe Artest‘s knee if he trips and falls while getting up from his psychiatrist’s couch.
Art Garcia: Boredom. Short of Kobe Bryant deciding to try his hand at baseball or Phil Jackson taking a two-month Jackson Hole sabbatical, there’s no slowing this train. Never has a two-time champ had a bigger chip on its shoulder. Way to go, Miami.
Scott Howard-Cooper: No one in the West, other than the Lakers themselves. But the Heat will only get better. And the Celtics will refuse to go away. And someone will undoubtedly make a big trade before the February deadline. L.A. is the obvious favorite, not to mention my pick in the first place. There is still a lot of earning to be done, though.
Shaun Powell: This could be the strongest team of the Kobe era. Yes, even more than those teams with Shaq. Pau Gasol is off to a superb start. Love what Matt Barnes and Steve Blake add, while Shannon Brown is bringing it from the bench. At a pedestrian 23 points per game, Kobe is just biding his time until the spring. Same for Andrew Bynum, but for altogether different reasons.
John Schuhmann: In the East, you have the same three contenders as you had going in: Boston, Miami and Orlando. In the West, I really like what I’ve seen from Dallas. Defensively, I think they’ve taken a step forward with Tyson Chandler replacing Erick Dampier. If their offense can come around, they’ll be a stronger foe than we thought the Lakers would have in their conference.
Sekou Smith: Stop the Lakers from doing what, running over helpless opponents who should be taking their shots at them while Andrew Bynum recovers from his latest knee injury? No one and no team is going to stop the Lakers, at least not anytime before June. The Lakers have the best balance of elite talent, coaching, veteran experience, motivation and leadership that I’ve seen since … no sense in jinxing these cats with some lame reference to the 72-win Bulls. But they have that look about them.