At first glance, the Lakers appear right on track to capture their 16th Championship in franchise history this June. They’re 50-18 and are four games up on the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks for the #1 seed for the Western Conference playoffs. They’re three and a half games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the league’s best record.
For the most part, they are where they were last year in the standings.
On top of that, their championship roster has remained intact. The only difference is the addition of Ron Artest–whom many consider to be an upgrade over the departed Trevor Ariza.
The recent three game slide (which happened on a road trip spanning over four days in which the Lakers lost to three playoff teams) have led people to believe that there is a Point-Guard-sized chink in the Lakers’ otherwise impenetrable armor. Some have questioned whether the Lakers have reverted to the cup-cake soft form that was exposed in Boston in 2008. Some, most notably Kobe Bean Bryant, have questioned whether this team sees the urgency required in repeating, saying “the jury is still out” on that. They’re also 1-2 against the Denver Nuggets, 2-2 against the Dallas Mavericks, 1-1 against the Orlando Magic, and 0-2 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.