Shaquille O'Neal won only one regular-season NBA MVP award, something Dwight Howard is yet to do.
However, it should be noted that Shaq did claim that award in his ninth season, which conveniently happens to be the season that Howard is entering.
If Howard isn't able to get back onto the floor once the season starts, his candidacy for this season's MVP award will be crippled. There are too many talented players in the NBA to make up for missing a large chunk of the season.
Honestly, Howard probably wouldn't be able to get back into the race even if he starts opening night and isn't 100 percent healthy. You can bet that LeBron James and Kevin Durant are both going to put together MVP-worthy seasons, and I wouldn't count on Chris Paul, Kevin Love and Tony Parker doing the same.
The competition for the league's Most Valuable Player award is always going to be fierce, which is why it would be very impressive if Howard were able to claim the award.
In terms of how Howard's current situation affects his chances, there are both positives and negatives.
With Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Paul Gasol all starting, the Lakers will be among the best teams in league, and Howard will contribute to that success. It is practically a pre-requisite for the MVP to be on a winning team, a fence that Howard will have no problem clearing in the coming seasons.
On the flip side, the presence of Bryant, Nash and Gasol will take away some of credit from Howard.
Howard won't lead the team in scoring—that will still belong to Bryant—and many of Howard's buckets will be on beautiful assists from Nash, which he will eventually get critiqued for, but he could end up being the most important player on the team.
The projected strong performances from his new teammates might be enough to keep Howard from winning the MVP award in the near future, but if he performs at a Shaq-like level, he will be rewarded for it in a big way.