Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers Primed For New Challenges This Season

With the ink barely dry on Shannon Brown's new two-year contract, the Lakers roster for the upcoming season is just about set.  Only contracts for LA's two second-round draft picks - Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks - are left to be arranged. 

Now that everything is in place and speculation about possible moves and signings has given way to the reality of core players returning and new arrivals fortifying the bench, it would seem appropriate to ponder what the 2010-2011 season has in store for the Purple and Gold, with three big questions that Laker Nation had at the start of the offseason:


How might the physical health of the team affect its performance this year?

After three straight seasons of more than 100 games each and international offseason tournaments sprinkled in between (i.e. the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing), it would stand to reason that LA's current dynastic core of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, and Derek Fisher came into the summer with a fair amount of bumps and bruises, to say the least.

Kobe and Bynum, in particular, suffered through some rather significant injuries.  Like clockwork, Bynum's knee gave way during the Lakers' first-round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Though not nearly as serious as the knee injuries he'd suffered in each of the previous two seasons, Drew showed some serious grit playing on a bum wheel to help the Lakers eek out a championship against the Boston Celtics.

Meanwhile, Kobe played a large chunk of the season with a broken pointer finger on his shooting hand...and was still arguably the best player in the NBA.  Nevertheless, his busted digit has reportedly gone arthritic as a result of his decision to put off proper treatment until after the season.

That's not to leave out Lamar Odom.  The Lakers' maddeningly ...

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