The Los Angeles Lakers had perhaps the greatest off-season of recent memory when they put together not a big three, but instead a Fantastic Four. The Lakers acquired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard this summer, and they will be joining forces with Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant.
Many fans and followers of the league quickly jumped on the Lakers’ bandwagon and it is safe to say the majority of people believe the Lakers will be winning a few championships in the near future.
However, Sports Illustrated polled 19 league executives (10 general mangers) on their favorites for the 2013 season, and surprisingly the winners were the three stars in Miami. Despite all the backlash the Heat received for putting together their big three, the league executives believe the Heat will repeat as NBA champions.
The defending champions in Miami received 16 first-place votes, one second-place vote and two third-place votes; their Finals foe, Oklahoma City, garnered two first-place votes, six second-place votes and nine third-place votes; and the Lakers, who have added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, got two first-place votes, 10 second-place votes and six third-place votes.
To the league executives’ defense, this Lakers team has not proven a single thing yet. Los Angeles still hasn’t played a game together so it is hard to predict just how well the stars can gel. There is no doubt the Lakers have the most talented team in the league, but at the end of the day team chemistry is more important.
The Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder have proven that they can reach the NBA Finals, and they should receive the benefit of the doubt in times like these.
However, the Lakers have a group of veteran players who are willing to sacrifice personal statistics for the betterment of the team. Steve Nash has been in the league for quite some time and he is ready to do whatever it takes to win a title. Nash understands that this is best situation for him and that, although the season hasn’t started yet, this Lakers team will give him the best chance to win a title.
As for Howard, he has a lot to prove this upcoming season and that will certainly drive him to succeed. Everyone has been criticizing Howard for his turbulent past season and you can be sure that he is ready to put his ego aside and make sure the Lakers are the last team standing in June.