The team that wins the NBA championship is usually the team to beat the following year.
However, I do not agree with this in all cases, especially with this year’s Lakers.
As of Sunday, the Lakers have lost two straight games and have only one game over .500 (26-25).
That puts them in unique territory, out of the playoffs with 31 games left.
In contrast, their major competition, the Sacramento Kings currently have a 36-18 record (as of Sunday), despite the fact that Mike Bibby, Bobby Jackson and Chris Webber have all missed games this season.
The Lakers barely beat the Kings last year in overtime in game seven of the Western Conference Finals, so the Lakers were barely a better team. The Kings played most of that series without their second leading scorer (averaging 21.2 point per game), all-star and three-point king, Predrag Stojakovic.
The gap between the two teams has been filled in the off-season and it is now overflowing on the side of Sacramento.
If the Lakers and the Kings meet in the playoffs this year, barring injuries, the lowly Lakers will face a superior Sacramento team that will have Stojakovic and two important off-season additions – Keon Clark (11.3 point per game, 7.4 rebounds per game last season) and Jim Jackson (15.8 points per game for career)-who were acquired just for the Lakers.
Let me close by asking this: If, in fact, the Kings convincingly beat the Lakers in the playoffs, would you be surprised? If you answered no, then there is no way that they are the team to beat. One should always be surprised when ‘the team to beat’ takes the fall, if in fact they are truly the team to beat. Also, for those who answered no, its because you know like I know, that the Lakers didn’t beat the Kings last year, and this year the Kings will not beat themselves again.
If you answered yes, please jump of their bandwagon before it crashes in June.
The Kings are clearly the best team in the NBA and they will beat the Lakers, convincingly in the playoffs.
That’s if the Lakers make it there.
-Ibram Rogers, 20, is a junior magazine production student from Manassas, Va. He is The Famuan’s sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.