This video isn't funny anymore.
I wrote a two part series on how the Lakers can win the NBA title this season and while I think it’s a very real possibility I don’t think the Lakers are the favorites. Actually I wouldn’t say that there is a strong favorite to win the title. The Miami Heat, the OKC Thunder and the Lakers have strong cases, and I wouldn’t count out the Spurs either. Any one of these teams have the talent and I could envision situations and circumstances that allow each team to win. The Heat have the best case. They also have the highest ceiling of any potential title team. They aren’t a strong favorite mainly because there is so much worthy competition but it’s their title to lose for a number of reasons. The reasons start and end with Lebron James. Lebron is the best player in the league by a mile. He is also the most versatile. Last post-season he guarded every position well and shifted seamlessly from a point forward who got every one involved to the low post where he beasted on opponents inside. He not only was unstoppable, he was unstoppable from everywhere on the court. And really there is potential for Lebron to get better as crazy as that sounds. Last season was the first time he really banged down low and played power forward on the regular. It transformed the Heat into a team that made sense and complemented their talent. This season Lebron is committed from the start to playing power forward and there’s a chance he improves and polishes his post game.
Then there’s’ Lebrons’ teammates, or co-stars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. In the Heat’s first season they were great individually but didn’t complement each other in a way that got the most of their talent. D Wade and Lebron took turns running the offense and as a result weren’t ever in synch and dominant on the floor together. Last season D Wade handed the team over to Lebron and played a secondary role. While his scoring went down h actually played very well in the regular season before falling off a bit in the playoffs. Wade was banged up in the postseason and as a result wasn’t quite himself. D Wade is a bit older this year but if he can play at level he was at before his injuries last year watch out. There was a time not too long when Dwayne and Lebron were relatively equal as talents. Bosh also dealt with injuries in the postseason and actually missed a big chunk of the Miami-Indiana series and the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics. During these stretches Lebron reverted to Cleveland mode and carried the Heat on his back. Lebron had to work much harder than he or anybody else thought he would have for his first title. If Bosh and Wade are completely healthy though? The Heat are a dominant team. Bosh’s offensive game has slipped from his Raptor days but he is now a very good defender who is committed to doing whatever it takes to win. In that vein, Bosh has agreed to play Center this season. The Heat’s three stars have figured out their roles and know how to bring the best out of each other. That’s scary for the rest of the league and it’s the main reason why they have to be the favorites. In the Finals last year the Thunder played the Heat close but Miami still closed them out in five games. Once again D Wade and Bosh weren’t at 100%. In that series we also say how great the Heat’s offense is when they get reliable three-point shooting, I don’t expect Shane Battier or mike Miller to repeat those kind of performances regularly, but I do expect that from Ray Allen. Ray is one of the best shooters ever and will get nothing but wide open looks as a member of the Heat. The weak link for Miami is still their supporting cast but the same is true for the Lakers and Thunder. I like Mario Chalmers and I’m not fond of anyone else but as long as they play decent enough defense and hit open shots form time to time it ill work out. That’s the key to being a good role player whether you’re Udonis Haslem or Derek Fisher(who isn’t good anymore but was a good role player fro 10+ years).
The Heat also have an easy road to the Finals as the East isn’t very strong. The Celtics are old and while they took Miami to seven games last year, The Heat beat them down in the games that Chris Bosh played in. Health is the Heat’s biggest obstacle to making the NBA Finals for a third straight year. I predict that the Finals themselves will be a challenge for the Heat whether they face the Thunder, Lakers, or Spurs. Exciting stuff, but I’m just as excited to see a confident Lebron at the height of his powers leading the Heat through their first season free of a monkey on their back.