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May 21, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) handles the ball while being defended by Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) during the second half in game five of the Western Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE

LA Lakers not best in West yet says Bruce Bowen; Don’t forget about OKC Thunder

When the Los Angeles Lakers traded for Dwight Howard last week, they immediately became NBA title contenders with some people calling them the favorites to win it all.

It felt like everyone had forgotten about the Oklahoma City Thunder. Bruce Bowen hasn’t.

There’s a team out West called the Oklahoma City Thunder. Those young boys, it seems like each and every year they get better… I don’t think you can rule them out with their starters, their bench. You look at Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka down low, I think they will be aggressive and challenge Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. Then you look at James Harden coming off the bench, who’s going to matchup with him? It’s not even a question with Steve Nash and Russell Westbrook. So now it leaves Kobe and Kevin Durant…. I’m not sold on this new Lakers team because it takes time to gel.

via Pro Basketball Talk

This is what I like to hear. Bowen is absolutely right that the Thunder match up very well with the Lakers. The Lakers will have much more trouble trying to keep up with the Thunder than the other way around.

There is no question that the 2012-13 Lakers team will be a better one than the team OKC beat in five games in the second round of the playoffs last year. They’re going to have to be a lot better though to knock off the Thunder.

That’s just the Thunder though. The Lakers do seem to have even more so increased their chances against the other elite NBA teams like the Spurs and Heat.

If next season plays out like it should, OKC will be waiting for the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. L.A. will likely have to go through the Spurs or Clippers first which will be challenges for them too. A matchup with the Heat of course wouldn’t happen until the NBA Finals.

Tags: Bruce Bowen Dwight Howard Kevin Durant Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Oklahoma City Thunder Steve Nash

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