Artest and Kobe will provide the perimeter defense. Kobe isn't as quick or explosive as he was five years ago, but he is a smarter player. He has made the NBA All-Defensive first or second team 12 times. He can't guard Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant, but other than LeBron James, name someone who can. Artest will provide his strong, aggressive and irritating defense as usual.
Steve Nash plays no defense, I will make no bones about that, but that's not what the Lakers brought him in to do. Name a Lakers point who has played good defense in recent years. Derek Fisher sure didn't, but they still won the NBA Finals in 2009 and 2010. Steve Nash is an upgrade from Ramon Sessions because, well, he's Steve Nash. I can only think of one point guard that can be argued to be as good as Nash has been over the last 10 years.
The key to this team now, other than Kobe, and the reason why it will be so good is because of its four and five. No team in the NBA has a better combination there. Not Miami, not OKC, not New York or even Chicago. The Lakers front court will dominate games. Dwight Howard shoots for a better field goal percentage, averages more points (mainly because he had to), pulled down more rebounds and averaged more blocks. Howard's free throw shooting is the only thing that lets him down. Howard does, however, get to the free throw line more than Bynum and is consistently among the league leaders in free throw attempts. It is easier to guard Bynum in the post than Howard because of Howard's athleticism.
LA will not steamroll OKC, but the OKC bigs will get pushed around by Howard and Pau Gasol. In a series between the two teams, I would pick the Lakers in six right now.
Edit: Plus, the Lakers will have an improved bench. Antawn Jamison will be the sixth man and Jodie Meeks will help spread the floor and provide threes.
Edited by gta_player5, 13 August 2012 - 07:04 AM.