Can Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers Stay Healthy Enough to Contend?

Todd PheiferAnalyst IIIOctober 27, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 21:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers fights for rebounding postition against DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on October 21, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  The Kings won 99-92.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers will need to overcome some challenges if they are going to contend for another title this season.

On paper, they have all the makings of their own super team. In reality, there are many things that can go wrong.

Many of the questions have already been posed: Can Dwight Howard find enough of a role in this offense to make him want to stay long term? Will Steve Nash be able to create a productive offensive flow? What role will Kobe Bryant play now that he has some new and potentially explosive weapons around him?

At this point, I think there is really only one key question: Can this team stay healthy for an entire season?

It does matter if this team can find their rhythm, but rhythm will not be effective if they cannot stay on the floor. With this squad, age and health could be ongoing issues.

Kobe Bryant. Steve Nash. Metta World Peace. Pau Gasol. Dwight Howard.

34. 38. 32. 32. 26. Those are not exactly their jersey numbers.

This is a veteran squad, to say the least. Everyone knows that this team is built to win right now, and two years from now the entire franchise might be completely rebuilt.

Kobe Bryant has a foot issue, and those knees have a lot of miles. Bryant is a warrior, but the body can only take so much. At some point in a star’s career, the will of a champion can no longer get it done.

Add in the fact that Dwight Howard is coming off back surgery, and you may have players rotating on and off the injured list all season. Howard’s back may be just fine, but if he has issues, Los Angeles could suddenly have a problem.

Bryant played 58 games last year in the shortened season. Nash played in 62, Metta in 64, Gasol in 65 and Howard in 54. From a durability standpoint, those are not bad numbers, but I suspect that there will not be any iron men in the starting five this year.

Granted, the Lakers do have more depth this year than they have had in past seasons. This will obviously help, but Los Angeles will need a healthy group of starters if they are going to contend with the likes of LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

Obviously, there is nothing to do at this point but see how things go. There may be some wisdom in Mike Brown managing the rotation in order to build in some rest throughout the season. However, the Lakers still need to gel, stay sharp and build momentum throughout the year.

A few missed games will not make a difference, but this team cannot afford to have their stars on the shelf for extended periods of time.

Never mind the 0-8 record in preseason. Watch the injury report. That report will tell you how far this team can go this season.