Lakers Need to Trade for Dwight Howard, No Matter How Long It Takes
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
I will say it, since no one else will: The 2013 Los Angeles Lakers will not win an NBA title without acquiring a healthy Dwight Howard. Yes, that is a slight towards Andrew Bynum, even though I think he is clearly the second-best center in basketball. The reality is, the trend of the league is towards hyper-athleticism and Bynum is a plodder, not a greyhound.
On the surface, it seems as though a Bynum for Howard swap is merely about upgrading the defense and yes, that is an overwhelming sentiment. But considering the Lakers have gotten even older (and by proxy, slower) with the acquisition of Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison, the roster is in need of someone athletic enough to potentially erase a lot of mistakes on the defensive end. There is no player in basketball (LeBron James included) that covers up his teammates to the degree that Dwight Howard has, can and will.
And yes, there is no secret that the Lakers need an elite defender in the middle. Steve Nash is an abject liability on defense (though to be fair, so are Derek Fisher and Steve Blake). Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace are longer the elite defenders they once were, particularly in Bryant's case. Pau Gasol is merely adequate at the power forward spot. Bynum could give you flashes as evidenced by his 30-rebound effort against the Spurs, but is not anywhere close to being the defender that Howard is.
Why does this matter so much? Well it's two fold. First off, numbers do not tell the entire story of a defender's ability. Yes, Howard is a superior rebounder (14.5 vs. 11.8 for Bynum in 2012), but it is the effect Howard has in the paint as well as his quickness to recover that makes him so invaluable. The Lakers have a tendency to sag their defense as a result of their lack of perimeter quickness.
With Howard, the Lakers can become a little more aggressive, which could help against the open three-point shooting that has plagued their defense, particularly in the last two playoff losses to Dallas and Oklahoma City. In addition, Howard is a fantastic pick-and-roll defender with the ability to get back to the rim on dribble penetration. No knock on Bynum, but his maximum capacity makes him about 65 percent of the defender Howard is.
Another reason that is overlooked about a potential Howard acquisition is the fact that unlike his cast in Orlando, the Lakers definitely do not need him to be a 25-plus point scorer to win. In fact, you could say that Howard might be able to get 20 a game with the help he would potentially have in Los Angeles.
As for the pink elephant in the room, ask yourself this: Would you rather have a petulant First Team All-NBA center who may or may not return after the 2013 season, or a petulant Second Team All-NBA center who may or may not return after the 2013 season?
In other words, you're going to get the same immaturity with Howard or Bynum, so the decision becomes more about who helps the team overall from a basketball standpoint. In my opinion, that is Howard. Stopping or at least deterring players like Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James simply is not happening with Bynum in the pivot. We have seen that movie already.
But adding Howard (with the assumption he is healthy) makes the Lakers good enough defensively to get out of the West. It would be a dogfight against Oklahoma City, but Howard is the difference with the ability of Nash, Gasol and of course Kobe Bryant being able to score on the floor alongside him.
This team is built to win right now and the window for the Lakers is wide, but thin. Adding Dwight Howard gives the Lakers a centerpiece once Kobe Bryant retires and provides an immediate presence to continue success well beyond the next two years. Now or later, the onus is on the Lakers to make this deal.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?