In an article published Wednesday afternoon, the L.A. Times asked, "Are the Lakers better than the Utah Jazz?"
This isn't a question that is typically asked, at least not in recent years. However after barely edging the Jazz out of the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference last year, maybe this is a feasible preseason question.
The L.A. Lakers will probably, again, be looking to squeeze into the playoffs. To lead off the article, L.A. Times writer Eric Pincus wrote, "To make the playoffs, the Lakers need to be better than seven teams in the Western Conference." This alone shows how far the Lakers have fallen, and the Jazz come into the picture as one of the teams the Lakers will need to beat out for a playoff berth.
The L.A. Times says it shouldn't be a problem this year, predicting the Jazz with total win amounts in the low-30s while the Lakers should finish with nearly 45 wins.
Broken down by position groups, the Lakers seem to hold an advantage over Utah at most positions. The Jazz's youth and inexperience contribute to most of the disadvantage, but are mere question marks rather than facts.
The Jazz have a possible advantage over the Lakers at power forward, however. Derrick Favors will likely start for the Jazz at that position. If the Lakers start Pau Gasol across from Favors, he might be able to give Gasol a run for his money. Favors is faster and more agile, but Gasol is bigger with more experience and refined skill. The Jazz seem to have a deeper bench at power forward than L.A. though.
The Lakers success will also greatly depend on the timely return of Kobe Bryant from his Achilles heel injury. Overall, the Jazz will likely fall short next year against the Lakers.
Whitney O'Bannon is a new media sports writer for the Deseret News. Follow on Twitter at @whitney_oban.