Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 12/30/11

Regardless of the results from last season, many of us have a tendency to always include the Lakers in the discussion of teams to beat in the West.  This particular Lakers team has been to three NBA Finals and won two championships in the last four years.  However, there is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the 2011-2012 edition.  They have a new coach, lost one of their best role players in Lamar Odom, and have a seemingly disgruntled Kobe Bryant to deal with.  Pau Gasol is not getting any younger and Andrew Bynum’s health is always a concern.  Perhaps it is reasons like those that inspired Ron Artest Metta World Peace to call the Thunder the team to beat in the West.

“I think probably Oklahoma’s going to be pretty tough,” Artest World Peace said during an interview with 590 The Fan in Toronto. “I think they’re young and they’ve been there before. They have some good, smart players. I think Oklahoma City did a great job of putting together young, good, smart players. They’ve got to have one of the best general managers around.”

The Thunder should certainly be a force to be reckoned with, but the fact that Artest World Peace didn’t take that opportunity to call the Lakers the team to beat either means he knows they have work to do or he is trying to be modest.  Either that, or he was too busy thinking about his teeth to give the question any thought.

While we’re on the subject, the Lakers may also want to keep an eye on the other team from Los Angeles.  I heard they added a couple of new players and look pretty good.

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