Los Angeles Lakers
Placing last season: 41-25 (3rd in Western Conference, Playoffs: Second round exit)
Key moves: No team made a bigger move in the offseason than the Lakers when they traded for Dwight Howard.
The fact that the only big piece they had to give away to do it was Andrew Bynum was a great move for the team, who would surely have expected to part with more.
The addition of Steve Nash for a couple of first and second round picks will also boost a team who would have been picking at the tail end of the draft anyway.
Signing Antawn Jamison shouldn’t be overlooked either as with a core of Nash, Gasol, Bryant and Howard there will be plenty of open looks for a shooter like Jamison.
Challenges ahead: The Lakers need to win and win now. Bryant and Nash are getting towards the end of their career and probably have only a couple more seasons operating at a high level.
They both need to avoid injury and find a way to get past the Thunder.
Reason to be positive: The trades made this team infinitely better. No team in the Western Conference improved as much in the offseason and they will be surely hoping for nothing but a title come the end of the year.
Prediction: 60-22 (1st in Western Conference, Playoffs: Champions)
images: © Keith Allison