Dwight Howard, Deron Williams: Which Player Would L.A. Lakers Fans Prefer?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IAugust 21, 2011

There is a belief among some Los Angeles Lakers fans that the team will be a major player in the anticipated free agent class of 2012, but there is no clear consensus on who should be the Lakers top target.

The biggest area of need heading into next season is unquestionably at point guard, but there have been several rumors floating around that concern Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and a subtle hint during the 2011 All-Star weekend that he wouldn't mind playing in Los Angeles.

The fact that Los Angeles used their first two picks of the 2011 NBA draft on point guards suggests that general manager Mitch Kupchak and new team president Jim Buss understand how dire the situation is.

However neither Darius Morris or Andrew Goudelock are prepared to start as rookies.

If the Lakers do intend to acquire a high profile point guard then what are arguably the game's best two lead guards will be available in 2012.

New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul and New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams will both be entertaining offers for their services leading up to 2012, but in the Lakers case Williams may be a more realistic target.

Some people felt New Jersey got the better player when they managed to land Williams in a trade after Carmelo Anthony shunned them for the New York Knicks, and although that may be true, Williams is likely only in New Jersey on a temporary basis.

Williams didn't asked to be traded but the Utah Jazz felt there was a good chance he would bolt for greener pastures in 2012 and in an effort to protect their own interests they took a proactive stance and dealt Williams before his status could become an issue.

 Paul has been rumored to have his eyes focused on joining Anthony and Amare Stoudemire in New York, and at any rate his status as a Hornet seems a lot more stable than Williams in New Jersey.

Williams would also probably be a better fit for new head coach Mike Brown's defense-oriented scheme, and his 6'4" frame would give the Lakers one of the NBA's biggest backcourts when paired with Kobe Bryant.

There is also a chance that Williams could come with a slightly less expensive price tag than Paul, who is still considered by numerous observers and analysts to be the very best lead guard the NBA has to offer.

By acquiring Williams the Lakers would immediately reclaim their title as the West's most dangerous team at least for the short term, but a dedicated charge for Howard would signal their intentions to remain relevant in the future.

Williams is a great player, but Howard is the type of talent that NBA franchises are built around.

Buss has not given any inclination that he plans to pursue Howard once the NBA's work stoppage ends, but he and Kupchak would be crazy not to jump at the chance especially if Howard's comments about playing in Los Angeles are true.

Since 1980 the Lakers have built their teams around a dominant post player, and Howard would be the perfect player to continue a proud tradition that includes former greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal and more recently Pau Gasol.

I am well aware that Howard doesn't meet any pressing need for the Lakers right now, considering the team has one of the league's strongest front courts without him. But if Howard is available how do you pass on that type of talent and not regret it?

The Lakers can always land a decent talent at point guard, albeit probably not the same skill level of Paul or Williams, but a player like Howard is much more difficult to come by.

Once the lockout finally ends I expect Buss and Kupchak to make a series of moves with the intention of getting the Lakers back to the Finals, and I am hopeful that they will address the flaws that plagued the team during the 2011 postseason.

But I also expect Buss and Kupchak to jump at the chance to acquire Howard if at all possible, because the Lakers as a franchise have been defined by their ability to renew their superstar talent base, especially in the paint.