Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 8/27/12

Championships are not won and lost on paper. That’s the beauty of sports. The Boston Red Sox can trade for an Adrian Gonzalez and sign a Carl Crawford and less than two years later both are wearing Dodger blue. But that team was supposed to win over 100 games a season and multiple titles, right? Wrong.

Over the course of the offseason, the Lakers have transformed their team of underachievers into what looks like a mix-and-match grouping of the East and West All-Star teams. Now that they have added Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, many believe L.A. is the team beat in the West. Kevin Durant of the defending Western Conference champion Thunder agrees that the Lakers have the best team — on paper.

“People outside, fans, media, of course they are going to say (the Lakers are the favorites) because on paper they have the best lineup in the league,” Durant said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears. “But you still got to play the games. We respect everybody. We are going to go through the league respecting everybody as well. We already view ourselves as an elite team, but we have to prove it again. Last year is over with.”

Durant added that the challenge will be “fun” for Oklahoma City, and personally I think a little added motivation after a successful season is a great thing. Durant and James Harden did their best to pretend the additions of Howard and Nash mean nothing to them in a recent appearance on a talk show, but we all know the Thunder are very aware that the competition has gotten steeper. My guess is they’re excited about the challenge.

Photo Credit: Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE

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