NBA Rumors: Dwight Howard Would Make Lakers the Best in the West

Marques Eversoll@MJEversollAnalyst IJuly 23, 2012

If Dwight joins Kobe in Los Angeles, the Thunder may have to put their "dynasty" talks on hold.
If Dwight joins Kobe in Los Angeles, the Thunder may have to put their "dynasty" talks on hold.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Dwight Howard is the star of this summer’s biggest hit series—a daily 24-hour drama called “The Dwightmare.”

The casts of Breaking Bad and Grey’s Anatomy are both jealous of Howard’s ability to balance anticipation with disaster, all while adding a twist of comedy.

Dating back to last season, Howard’s list of teams he’d like to play for has continued to shorten. After claiming the Brooklyn Nets were the only team he’d sign an extension with past 2012, Howard has apparently warmed up to the idea of playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.

First he wanted to go to Brooklyn, then he was open to staying in Orlando, then it was Brooklyn again, and now it may be Los Angeles—Brett Favre thinks Howard has trouble making up his mind.

Regardless of Howard’s wavering stance on his future, adding the six-time All-Star center may be the difference between the Lakers being a playoff team or potentially being crowned the kings the Western Conference.

The Lakers already have one of the league’s best centers in Andrew Bynum, who averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game last season—by far his best as a professional.

Despite being selected to his first All-Star game in 2012 and boasting perhaps the widest array of offensive skills among NBA post players, his motor and maturity have both been questioned throughout his seven seasons in the NBA.

And although Howard has been a bit of a prima donna since demanding a trade from the Magic, his presence in the middle would be crucial to the success of the Lakers, who have already been very busy this offseason.

By acquiring Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade with Phoenix, the Lakers will likely feature a slightly different offensive attack next season.

Many think that the addition of Nash makes the Lakers a more dangerous team than the Thunder, Spurs or anyone else, but given the strong state of the point guard position in the Western Conference, and knowing Nash’s obvious limitations defensively, the Lakers would certainly benefit from trading Bynum for an elite rim protector like Howard.

The three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year is a 6’11” 265-pound intimidation machine, whose mere presence near the basket is enough to prevent players from attacking the basket and trying their luck. In each of the three seasons that Howard was named Defensive Player of the Year, Orlando ranked in the league’s top six teams in terms of points allowed per game.

Howard is like an oak tree standing directly in front of the basket. His 7’6” wingspan makes it nearly impossible for opponents to get a clear shot off, as evidenced by his career averaged of 2.2 blocks per game.

Bynum and Howard are widely considered to be the top two centers in basketball. Howard is clearly the better defender, and Bynum probably features a wider skill set offensively. But despite being better known for his defense than his offense, Howard has proven to be a capable low-post scorer, as he has averaged a double-double in each of his eight NBA seasons.

And the way the Lakers are currently constructed, with offensive-minded Pau Gasol at power forward, Howard’s ability to mask some of the Lakers’ defensive deficiencies is a much more valuable asset than banking on the potential of Bynum.

Last year’s winners of the West were the Oklahoma City Thunder. With a young nucleus eager to build on last season’s Finals appearance, the Thunder figure to be in the Championship hunt for the next several years.

Nash certainly made the Lakers a better team, and they’re unquestionably a threat to win a Championship as currently constructed, but a potential lineup featuring Howard would be equipped for anything Oklahoma City might throw their way.

The Lakers’ aging backcourt would surely struggle to match the athleticism of Russell Westbrook and James Harden, but armed with one of the NBA’s top all-around defenders in Metta World Peace and the best post defender in Howard, the Thunder’s high-scoring offensive show probably wouldn’t look forward to taking their act to Los Angeles.

Wesbrook, Harden, Durant, Perkins and Ibaka against Nash, Kobe, World Peace, Gasol and Howard. A compelling argument can be made for either lineup being the better of the two, but an addition of Howard would make the Lakers' case much more convincing.

After all, it's a numbers game with the Lakers. Five hungry veterans, all ten eyes on one prize, and a certain player who wears No. 24 with his sights set squarely on No. 6. Add a big No. 12 to an already loaded roster, and the Lakers may have the perfect formula to bring the franchise its 17th Championship.