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Pundits predict another title for Lakers, but team falls short in player rankings

August 29, 2010 | 10:02 am

Lebronmiamiheat It’s summer, and the pundits of hoops are busy.

ESPN recently asked 93 of them: Which team wins the NBA title next June?

The Lakers topped the list, with 52 votes, followed by the Heat with 34, and in the back of the bus were the Magic (five votes), plus the Celtics and Thunder (with one each).

ESPN’s panel didn’t include ex-Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy. But earlier this month he said the Heat, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, is history-about-to-happen on the hardwood.

The Heat “will break the single-season win record” of 72 wins, set by Michael Jordan’s Bulls in 1995-96, Van Gundy said. “And I think they have a legit shot at the Lakers’ 33-game [winning] streak [in 1971-72] as well. And only the Lakers have even a remote shot at beating them in a playoff series. They will never lose two games in a row this year…

“There is now no good way to defend them. They are unguardable. They are indefensible. They are just too good and have added so much shooting and are so versatile that they will score at will.”

Meanwhile, Yahoo’s Kelly Dwyer ranked, from 1 to 30, the top NBA players at each position, and the Lakers didn’t fare particularly well.

His rankings of point guards start with No. 1. Chris Paul and 2. Deron Williams. His list continues to the bottom dwellers: Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday, Rodney Stuckey and Kyle Lowry (No. 30). But there’s no Derek Fisher anywhere.

Dwyer wanted to “rank players [who] will be more valuable to a hypothetical team in a vacuum. So while Derek Fisher might be more important to a triangle offense than someone like John Wall would be…come on, it’s Derek Fisher vs. John Wall.” Wall, the top pick in the NBA draft, is ranked 17th.

Other samples from his rankings:

Shooting guards: 1. Dwyane Wade. 2. Kobe Bryant.

Small forwards: 1. LeBron James. 2. Kevin Durant. No 15. Ron Artest.

Power forwards: 1. Pau Gasol. 2. Tim Duncan. 19. Lamar Odom.

Centers: 1. Dwight Howard. 2. Andrew Bogut. 5. Andrew Bynum.

Be calm; training camps start in four weeks.

--Barry Stavro

Photo: LeBron James is welcomed to Miami in July. Credit: El Nuevo Herald / MCT / Hector Gambino