After a historic off-season in which the Los Angeles Lakers were able to acquire Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, the consensus around the league has been that the Oklahoma City Thunder’s reign in the Western Conference might be short-lived.
A survey was recently conducted with all 30 general managers in the NBA participating to talk about the outcome of the upcoming season along with many other different topics. Amongst the topics were the best players in the league at every position, rookies and the ultimate outcome at season’s end.
One of the most important topics in the survey was the projected winners of both conferences in the league with the majority of GMs picking the Lakers to come out of the Western Conference according to John Schuhmann of NBA.com:
Which team will win the Western Conference?
1. L.A. Lakers — 60.0%
2. Oklahoma City — 36.7%
3. Denver — 3.3%
Last year: Oklahoma City — 67.9%
As the percentages suggest, the Lakers are the clear favorites to win the West during the 2012-13 season. The Thunder is a distant second followed surprisingly by the Denver Nuggets.
After all the moves made by the Lakers in the off-season, it’s hard to argue with the outcome of this poll. Los Angeles is without a doubt the most talented team in the West and perhaps the entire NBA. The addition of Howard alone may have been enough to project Los Angeles surpassing Oklahoma City, but also adding the likes of Nash while keeping Pau Gasol to play alongside Kobe Bryant is too much firepower to bet against.
The Lakers were also projected to win the Pacific Division without much of a challenge from the Los Angeles Clippers:
Which team will win the Pacific Division?
1. L.A. Lakers — 96.7%
2. L.A. Clippers — 3.3%
Last year: L.A. Lakers — 77.8%
The Clippers appear to have the deepest bench in the league with the additions of Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill and Matt Barnes, but still fall way short of the Lakers in this survey as GMs around the league don’t give Chris Paul and company much of a chance to win the division.
As long as Howard, Nash, Gasol and Kobe can stay healthy over the course of the 82-game regular season ahead, the Lakers have a great chance of winning their division once again and moving on to win the West.
It remains to be seen how this revamped roster will contend with the likes of the defending NBA champion Miami Heat or even the reigning Western Conference champion Thunder, but as of right now all signs point towards a trip to the NBA Finals with LeBron James and company ready to defend the crown.
In case you missed it: Dwight Howard talks about his Lakers debut.
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