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Former Dodgers Player Believes Lakers and One Other Team Are Only True Contenders In West

And they're only the ninth seed!

Your Los Angeles Lakers are clinging to the ninth seed in the Western Conference, but one former Los Angeles star athlete believes they are just one of two teams who can contend.

According to former Dodger and World Series champion Jerry Hairston Jr., only the Lakers and Denver Nuggets are really in contention in the West. 

Despite hype surrounding the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves, who are all top four seeds in the West right now, Hairston Jr. does see any of those teams threatening for a chance at the playoffs.

Both the Lakers and Nuggets made it to the Western Conference Finals a year ago, so naturally they would pose a strong challenge to repeat. Currently the reigning champion Nuggets are once again contenders, especially with Nikola Jokic continuing to play at an MVP level. The Nuggets currently hold the No. 2 seed in the West, with a 44-20 record.

The Lakers have no guarantees at even making the tournament since they would currently have to qualify through the play-in tournament. However, the Lakers have proven they can beat all these teams that Hairston said are not contenders. They defeated the Timberwolves Sunday, the Thunder a week ago, and the Clippers almost two weeks ago.

The one team the Lakers have struggled to beat are the Nuggets, who are definitely contenders. The Lakers have lost to the Nuggets each of the three times they've played this season, as well as losing to them in the Western Conference Finals last season.

The Lakers know that if they play to what they're capable of, they'll have no trouble qualifying through the play-in tournament and going up against several potential opponents.