Dwight Howard is Still Best Big Man in NBA Despite Recent Criticism

Phil G@FuturePhilGCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2012

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers at American Airlines Center on November 24, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.  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

The Los Angeles Lakers traded for Dwight Howard in August and acquired Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade in early July.

Currently, the Lakers stand at 9-11, two games below .500. What went wrong? 

We can point to a multitude of things, including a coaching change, lack of depth and shooters, and possibly front office drama. 

However, one thing's for certain: This Lakers team is as talented as any ballclub you're going to find in the NBA. Another certain fact: Talent doesn't always equate to wins. 

Kobe Bryant knows his role, as does his team. He'll score, score some more, take a break, then probably score again—and at a efficient rate, I might add.

However, the same can't be said for the rest of the team. Pau Gasol has looked old, tired and, at times, disinterested when playing alongside Dwight Howard.

When he's used to touches in the paint and instead has been asked to spread the floor, I can see how this would eventually become an issue for Gasol.

We can't gauge Nash and his potential role until he actually suits up for the Lakers.

Now, that leaves us with Dwight Howard. The most dominant big man in the NBA is going through a rough patch. 

His numbers look solid on the surface, but what is lacking is his impact. We don't deny the potential for greatness that lies within Howard, but I speak for many fans when I say this: Can it show up already? 

Is it health related? Lack of shots or post-up opportunities? Bright lights of L.A.? 

Something is not right with Howard, and fans want to know why. 

I can't truly answer that. The Lakers could go on a 12-game winning streak, and we would all forget the drama that is ensuing at this moment. 

Nash could ride in like Gandalf of Lord of the Rings and magically save the Lakers from themselves, but what if this doesn't happen? 

More than anything, especially with basketball, fans tend to worry not about the "what-if" but rather, what could potentially go wrong. 

What if the Lakers never recover from all this hoopla? And more importantly, will the Lakers be able to keep Howard after this season? 

These are crucial questions that demand answers. Unfortunately, I can't answer them. Or rather, the answer cannot be revealed at this moment. 

But even more important, there are fans and analysts questioning whether Howard is worth all this trouble.

For the most part, many believe Howard is the best big man in the NBA. Some don't think it's close.

Without question, Howard is the best big man in the NBA. Yes, his free-throw percentage is beyond awful, but I suspect it will improve as the season passes along. 

Yes, Howard has issues with his footwork in the paint, and at times he can be very turnover-prone. What we must not forget, however, is his unbelievable athleticism, length, rebounding capabilities, shot-blocking prowess and his defensive impact. 

From what we can see, Howard isn't completely healthy. That's fine, as long as he regains his health in time for the postseason.

Plus, we can't discount Mitch Kupchak before the trade deadline. Who knows? The Lakers may pull a rabbit out of their hat. 

Let's talk about Howard's competition. An injury-plagued Andrew Bynum or Andrew Bogut? Inconsistent Roy Hibbert? Undersized Al Horford? Brook Lopez? 

The Lakers have the best big man to run Mike D'Antoni's scheme. Can Howard stand to improve as the season progresses? Absolutely, and that goes ditto for the rest of the Lakers. 

However, let's not be foolish and put all or even most of the blame on Howard. As stated by many before, the Lakers' issues run much deeper than this gentle giant. 


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