I would say that teams need three things to truly contend for a championship. I'm not going to include fringe teams like Jazz or Sixers, etc.
#1. Good ball movement to get high quality shots
Teams with this quality: Lakers, Clippers, Mavs, Grizzlies, Spurs, Heat, Bulls, Celtics, Thunder
#2. An unstoppable scorer
Teams with this quality: Lakers (Kobe), Spurs (Parker and Ginobili together), Heat (Wade), Thunder (Durant), Knicks (Carmelo)
#3. Experience and considering a season a failure if they don't win it all. Yes every team considers losing a failure, but there are only few teams where it's a black mark on their superstar's career if they lose.
Teams with this quality: Lakers, Heat, Thunder
(Celts, Mavs, Spurs are getting too old for legit expectations... Bulls are off due to Rose inury)
Of course, there's also defense, but most teams that are contenders have good defense.
Sidenote: the worst team in the playoffs are the Knicks.
New York Knicks: All they do is run isolation plays for Carmelo. There is no ball movement. He gets the ball in bad spots, and theres turnovers because they force the pass to him. In contrast, Kobe gets the ball in his preferred spot because the Lakers swing the ball around, or use off ball picks to get Kobe into his spot. If you watched Game 1 or 2, the Knicks PG dribbles upcourt, then immediately dumps it into Carmelo for an isolation. More than half of their possessions look like this! I can't believe this a playoff offense. Melo dribbles here and there and then takes a bad shot. And if he gets double teamed, he isn't a good facilitator like Lebron. Add in the fact that Carmelo and Amare don't complement each other. Forget the Miami Heat, they would get swept by any other playoff team.
Heat will lose to whoever wins the West
Grizzlies-Clippers: anyone's series. It's so evenly matched. Both have great ball movement and good shooters, but no true unstoppable scorers. If I had to pick a winner, I'd go with the Grizzlies because they have Game 7 on their floor.
I think the biggest threat are the Spurs. Parker and Ginobili have been giving me nightmares since I was in high school. They are so good collectively that they are a more serious threat to teams than Kobe alone, since they work together to get layups or open shots. Either way they shoot higher percentage than Kobe, and they are both clutch in crunch time. This is why I say that Bynum is so important to Laker's chances. But if Lakers and Spurs meet, going against Tim Duncan will be one hell of a career test.
Lakers are becoming a two superstar team again. Bynum right now is more
of an asset than Gasol was three years ago. Gasol couldn't dominate like
this. With both Kobe and Bynum demanding double teams, and Sessions
getting transition points, and Blake and Barnes hitting open shots.... I
think the Lakers can win the championship. And if they do, Bynum will