The Lakers are good, but how good? They are 23-11 and just one game back of the Western Conference leading Suns. They are 14-3 since December 4th and are 4-2 against the top five teams in the West. Kobe Bryant is getting his teammates involved and his teammates are delivering when Bryant's shots aren't falling, The Lakers bench is 5th in scoring, averaging over 35 points per game. So, I know you're excited, but things are going to get worse.
No, I don't believe they will fall apart like last year. A lot of people are mentioning that they had the exact same record last year (22-11) as they did this year prior to Wednesdays win over the Hornets. Last year they went on to lose 21 of their next 31 and finished the season just two games above .500. No, they will not have that type of collapse this season, but they are in for a rough stretch.
It's simply a matter of their schedule. Look at the schedule from January 31st until February 24th. During nearly a one month stretch, the Lakers will play exactly one home game to 12 away games. Granted, the majority of that stint is against the weaker Eastern Conference teams, but it will definitely test this young team. If the Lakers can go through that stretch 7-6 it will be a big success. But if they muster only 3-5 wins the rumors will begin to swirl about Bryant and who knows how the Lakers will respond.
So, until they get through that stretch, let's cool the talk about the Lakers being possible contenders. They are too young and untested to throw that type of praise on them.