The Lakers will win the West and lose to the Heat in the NBA Finals.
Adding Dwight Howard and Steve Nash will add juice to an offense that stagnated too often last season for one that included Kobe Bryant. Nash's outside shooting, long overlooked because of his pick-and-roll prowess in Phoenix, will provide spacing for Bryant and Howard. Pau Gasol moves into deadly pick-and-pop range. And what's the over/under for alley-oops from Nash to Howard? They'll exceed it.
Howard, the game's top defender, fits well into coach Mike Brown's schemes. Nevertheless, LeBron James has tasted triumph and he's shifting into seeking dynasty mode. James is the game's best player now. He and Dwyane Wade will carry the offensive burden to a repeat.
To a compelling NBA Finals against the Heat, with both of those teams confirming that in the NBA it's all about star power and that you can go plenty far with suspect benches.
On paper, no one in the West presents what the Lakers present, an inside-outside (Dwight Howard-Kobe Bryant) game that features a pair of the game's best facilitators at their positions (Pau Gasol, Steve Nash).
As for the Finals against the Heat, let's see how it plays out before June, with the 82-game schedule likely to require some input from these largely counterfeit benches.
This may be a year when home-court advantage in the Finals means everything.
The Lakers, if their bodies hold up, will reach the NBA Finals next season.
They'll then lose in a dream matchup of future Hall of Famers, falling to the Heat, Tall Ball against Small Ball.
It will be the Lakers' best, if not last, shot, at the Heat, considering Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are running out of anti-aging cream. Sheer size, in the form of Dwight Howard and Gasol will get them past the Thunder.
The Heat are too athletic with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and too deep, having added old-time sharpshooters Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. No Hollywood script for L.A.