If you look at the home page of Yahoo! Sports, they feature the Lakers as the "gold standard", saying, "The Lakers – not the Spurs or Thunder – look like the team to beat in the Western Conference." Are they crazy? I'm trying to understand how they arrive at that conclusion.
Is it win differential? LA has beat Denver by 15 and 4 points. OKC is handling an arguably stronger Dallas team (remember, they were leading the Spurs early in the season, and they're the defenders) by 1, 3, and 16 points. That tells me that OKC is at least as worthy of discussion as LA, but they're also proving they can win one-possession games. The Lakers' 4-point margin? Shows they can survive a late rally that was just too little, too late. How about our beloved Spurs? 15 and 31 points, a thrashing against a team said to possess Spurs kryptonite (rumors of the Spurs' mortal weakness were at least mildly exaggerated).
The video talks less about their superiority over the Spurs and Lakers, but they discuss "brilliance" and having what the opposition lacks - Andrew Bynum. How do you measure brilliance? Even in the video they acknowledge the brilliance of players like Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, Harden, Parker and Ginobili. I can add several more to the list. Are these any less brilliant than Kobe and Bynum?
What about star performances? I didn't get to see these games, so let's look at stat lines. Kobe's turned up his PPG, and his percentage is good for high-volume shooters (20+ attempts per game) at 49%. Westbrook takes 5 fewer a game but shoots it just as well. Durant's right behind him and 44% is nothing to sneeze at, given his poor play the first two games. That rounds out OKC's two-headed monster. Duncan's shooting 50% and Parker's lights-out at 55%, and he's a point guard - that just destroys the opposition. Duncan's out-rebounding Bynum individually, but the nod goes to LA for having three of the top four rebounders in the West so far (Bynum, Hill, Gasol). So is their line of reasoning Bynum's 6 BPG married with Gasol's 2?
How about team lines? Memphis and LA are both averaging 100+ a game, but no one is like the Spurs at 110 PPG. 110! The Spurs are also killing the opposing offense. OKC is also doing a slightly better job holding the opposition to fewer points. The Lakers have a stronger differential than OKC, but the Spurs beat them all.
Of course, the big thing to note is that this bold statement comes after only two or three games per team. Are you really ready to say LA is the team to beat after two wins? Seeded behind the other two heavyweights? I won't even talk about the monster Memphis for now. Do you care about how the Spurs responded after getting hit in the mouth the first time by LA? Does that count for anything? How about OKC's 2-1 edge in the regular season? My vote is to wait for the end of a series BEFORE making such pronouncements and disrespecting other teams. Come on, Yahoo.