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Bynum vs. Howard: Will Bynum Be Better Than Howard Next Season?

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Bynum vs. Howard: Will Bynum Be Better Than Howard Next Season?
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The Orlando Magic seem prepared to start the 2012-13 regular season with center Dwight Howard on the roster—and for the Los Angeles Lakers, that might not be a bad thing.

According to ESPN.com, the Lakers are still very interested in acquiring Howard, but they have begun preliminary contract extension talks with Andrew Bynum, who is sure to demand a max contract of his own.

And after next season, Bynum might prove that he deserves it, if he can stay healthy.

Statistically, Bynum and Howard clearly designated themselves as the top two centers in the NBA, but the numerical gap between them is not as large as you would think.

Last season, Howard averaged 20.6 points per game, 14.5 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and shot 57 percent from the floor and 49 percent from the free-throw line.

Bynum averaged 18.7 points per game, 11.8 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and shot 55 percent from the field and 70 percent from the free-throw line.

Those numbers are really not that far off from each other, and the perspective is changed when you factor in that Bynum's numbers were earned playing beside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, who remain two of the best players in the game at their respective positions.

I believe that Bynum's production on a roster that includes Bryant and Gasol is commendable, but I have also heard cogent arguments that theorize Bryant and Gasol's presence actually inflate Bynum's numbers.

So how will the addition of Steve Nash affect that line of thought?

Now Bynum has three of the best positional players in the NBA on his team, and the newest just happens to be one of the most gifted sharers in the game.

The most impressive thing about Nash is that he tends to make everyone's shooting percentage go up; and after witnessing what he did with Marcin Gortat in the pick-and-roll, imagine what he can do with Bynum.

Nash might be the best player in the NBA at understanding when his teammates are in the best position to score, and my educated guess says Bynum will benefit greatly from Nash's presence.

Bynum has already displayed deft touch around the rim, and now many of those shots will become even easier because of Nash. Sixty percent shooting from the field for Bynum in 2012-13 is not out of the question.

Howard, on the other hand, will be returning from back surgery; and due to his current stand-off with Magic management, there is no way to predict when we might even see him on the court again.

I'm not sure how Howard will look after his return from a procedure to fix a herniated disk, but I do know unless the Magic deal him, Jameer Nelson will still be his starting point guard.

The Magic made the curious decision to lock up the mediocre Nelson to a multi-year deal, which guarantees that if Howard's game sees any improvement when he does return to the court, Nelson will have no involvement in it.

But the same can't be said for Bynum and Nash. The names together sound like a nice tagline for a buddy-cop drama, and there is no reason to think they can't be the most dominant paint-perimeter combo in the NBA. 

Nash has the ability to enhance Bynum's game in the same manner he did Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudemire—and neither one of those players had the same supporting cast that Bynum does.

It will be awfully difficult to key on Bynum in the paint when you have Bryant on one side, Antawn Jamison on the other and Gasol roaming around the free-throw line.

Every one of Bynum's numbers has the potential to increase across the board except for rebounding, because ironically, there are fewer boards to be had on the offensive end when Nas is running the point.

More importantly, Bynum's value as a player could rise alongside Nash just like Johnson and Stoudemire's did; and if Bynum does benefit from Nash's Midas touch, is there a chance that Bynum could make Howard the second-most attractive free agent of 2013?

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