Los Angeles Lakers: Can Andrew Bynum Top Howard as the Best Center in the NBA?

Garrett JochnauCorrespondent IIMarch 30, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic drives on Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the third quarter of Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.  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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

For the past few seasons, it has been a widely accepted fact that Dwight Howard was the best center in the league. It was an undeniable statement, and this year, once again, Howard has proven to be the best big man in the NBA.

But Superman may finally land and pass the cape to a different center: Andrew Bynum, the Lakers big man has finally stayed healthy enough and established himself among the league's best.

In fact, Bynum's 2012 performance has been so outstanding, Shaquille O'Neal has openly admitted that he believes that Bynum is better than Dwight Howard.

While Shaq is a well known "Howard-hater," the statement may not be as biased as one might think. The points that he makes are very true, making it reasonable to believe that Bynum is the best center in the NBA.

On offense, Bynum has blown Dwight away this season. While Dwight may be a more renowned dunker, his other moves in the paint are limited, whereas Bynum has a plethora of post moves.

Most impressively, Bynum pulled off a beautiful game-winner against Kevin Garnett of the Celtics. Watching the replay, the play somewhat resembles Kareem's sky hook. If Bynum can master that shot, he will be a force to be reckoned with in the league.

Not only has Bynum surpassed Howard on the offensive end, but he has done so while playing alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. While the entire Orlando offense is structured around Howard, the Lakers run theirs through Kobe. Bynum is only the sidekick, yet still can be an unstoppable force at times.

The most glaring difference between the two is on the other end of the court. Bynum is a very strong defensive player. However, Howard is the best defensive player in the entire NBA. He has taken home the Defensive Player of the Year award for three years straight, and is looking to make it four this season.

While it would be ridiculous to say that Bynum would be able to match Howard's defensive talents, it is not unreasonable to believe that he can come close.

Despite what most people think, Howard was not always a great defensive player. After his rookie season, coach Brian Hill asked Howard to improve his defense and become a force in the middle. Needless to say, Howard obeyed Hill's request and became one of the best defensive players in the league.

But what about Bynum? If Howard was able to improve his defensive ability to such a great extent, who's to say that Bynum can't do it too?

The two are very similar in the rebounding aspect the game. If Bynum can improve his defense to an extent that puts him close behind Howard, then his offensive game should offset this difference. 

Shaq is wrong by announcing that Bynum is already better than Howard, but don't be surprised if by the start of the 2013-14 season, Superman is old news and Bynum's name is the headline of the Daily Planet.