The Los Angeles Lakers have received criticism for many of the moves they've made since inking LeBron James to a four-year max contract in July. The Lakers have signed players with polarizing reputations around the league, like Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo. But Kobe Bryant understands the plan—the Mamba seems to believe his former squad, spearheaded by Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, is headed in the right direction.

"I think they're building the team smartly," Kobe said in an interview with ExtraTV. "They're building strong, physical players that play the game with pace and are basketball players. What I mean by that is, they don't have players that are one-dimensional."

The Lakers have added veterans to a promising young core that includes Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart. By not surrendering their young assets for Kawhi Leonard, they seem to be making a play for both the present and future.

"They have players that can handle the ball, shoot the ball, pass the ball, defend the ball," Kobe added. "So when you're building a team with that kind of versatility and physicality, that's something that can challenge Golden State. 'Cause you can't beat Golden State by playing Golden State–style. That's just not going to happen."

LeBron has qualified for eight consecutive NBA Finals, but he'll have his work cut out for him this year—extending that streak would be a Herculean accomplishment. The Warriors are Las Vegas' overwhelming favorite to win it all at -195. They're followed by the Celtics (+500), Rockets (+850), and Lakers (+1000)