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The moment that Los Angeles Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak traded for Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, the expectations surrounding the 2012-13 season skyrocketed.
On paper, the Lakers have what appears to be an almost unbeatable roster.
Unfortunately for LA, basketball games aren't played on paper and actually have to be won on the court.
Steve Nash is an excellent field general, but his court vision and decision-making prowess are useless if he is injured and watching from the bench.
According to Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times, Nash could miss up to four weeks with a non-displaced fractured fibula.
If Nash does miss a month, he would have been absent from about an eighth of the schedule, which would hamper the growth of the team.
The newly-installed Princeton offense has been questioned by just about everyone at this point, so it's important to get the Lakers' best personnel on the floor in order to determine whether or not the offense is a good fit.
Dwight Howard may be the best defender in the NBA, but he isn't fully recovered from his back surgery and won't be able to make the defense elite on his own.
Kobe Bryant has played like Kobe, as evidenced by his 40-point game against the Los Angeles Clippers on November 2. However, Kobe played 43 minutes in that game, which is simply too much playing time for him in a regular season game.
Currently, the Lakers only have four players on their roster with a PER over the league average of 15. Three of those players are Bryant, Howard and Pau Gaol, and the fourth is point guard Darius Moore, who is a non-factor.
Starting small forward Metta World Peace has been a nightmare thus far, as he has posted a PER of 6.0, which is far below the league average.
The Lakers need to form a bench identity, as that unit has been lackluster so far this season. Currently, Jordan Hill has the highest PER of any non-starter that has received extended minutes with a score of 10.3.
LA's playoff seed may be determined by the performances of its role players. The bench players have time to integrate themselves into Mike Brown's system, but the sooner the better.