L.A. Lakers' Final Checklist Before the 2012-13 NBA Opening Night

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L.A. Lakers' Final Checklist Before the 2012-13 NBA Opening Night
Harry How/Getty Images
The roster is loaded, but a host of questions cloud the Lakers' championship dreams.

Even before the Thunder traded away James Harden, many analysts had the Lakers penciled in to represent the West in the Finals. Now, it might seem like an inevitability. Dwight Howard came to Hollywood. So did Steve Nash. Pau Gasol looks to have rediscovered his nasty streak in the London Olympics. And Kobe does work.  

How can they lose?

Despite bringing in two future Hall of Famers to go with the two they already had on the roster, the purple and gold's success is not preordained. Bryant's reluctance to give up the ball late in games, Howard's health, Nash's age, Mike Brown's strategy and the bench's ability to do anything are all major question marks.

The Lakers are almost certain to best their previous two middling runs in the playoffs, but that doesn't mean they will win it all—or even the West. Oklahoma City hasn't stepped backwards as much as many think. San Antonio is old but ready for one last run. And there is an upstart in Denver and a potential sleeping giant in Memphis that can challenge any team in a seven-game series.

If the Lakers don't advance to the Finals for the first time since 2010, one—or all—of the following will be the main reason.

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