Howard vs. Bynum: Injuries and Super Factor Are All That Separates Star Centers

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IJanuary 7, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 13:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic drives against Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game at Amway Arena on February 13, 2011 in Orlando, Florida.  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 Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

I have always been a fan and supporter of Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum and will remain so as long as Bynum is with the team. But if the opportunity to acquire Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard presents itself I would still pounce.

And I will not be swayed by delusional Lakers fans who suggest Bynum has somehow proved himself after a paltry four games.

It's true that Bynum has been playing phenomenal basketball as of late, and his 22.3 points per game, 15.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 60 percent shooting from the field are certainly impressive.

Bynum's return from suspension has re-energized forward Pau Gasol and cemented the tandem as one of the league's top interior duos.

And after eight games the Lakers are still only 4-4.

The Lakers may or may not be as mediocre as their record suggests, but Bynum's glowing numbers have yet to really reflect in the win-loss column.

Bynum's first career 20 point, 20 rebound game against a small Houston Rockets team has been pointed to as a sign of Bynum's arrival as a legitimate NBA superstar, but his feat pales in comparison to Howard.

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Howard has been credited with 33 20-20 games in his career, but his dominance on the court goes much deeper than any numbers can measure.

Some people argue that Bynum is a more fundamentally skilled player than Howard, and I would even go a step further and say that Bynum possess natural instincts in the paint that Howard never will.

However Bynum's skill and natural instincts cannot match Howard's brute strength, athleticism and uncanny ability to impact a game without scoring a point.

In the Lakers recent 107-96 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers guard Raymond Felton and forward Gerald Wallace constantly challenged the bigger Lakers at the rim, and Bynum altered many of their shots.

But the same shots Bynum altered Howard would have blocked.

Wallace and Felton hit enough of those shots to win the game, but Howard's presence would have made them think twice about venturing into the lane in the first place.

Howard has averaged 19.1 points per game, 16 rebounds and 2.7 blocks this season, but his ability to change the course of a game with his defense is what makes him a superstar.

Bynum is a great player with the potential to be special. Howard is already special, and he has the ability to be legendary.

I'm not sure Bynum can ever make that claim, even if he does manage to stay healthy for the duration of a 66 game season.

Injuries have always been the elephant in the room when it comes to Bynum, and regardless of how many points he scores or rebounds he grabs the cloud of another setback will continue to hover over his career.

Ironically, Bynum's strong play may have given the Lakers an advantage in negotiations with Orlando, since every dominant game he plays tips the scales a little more in the Lakers favor.

In fact if Bynum does continue on this torrid pace the Lakers may be able to deal him and retain Gasol in the process.

And make no mistake, if Howard does become available the Lakers should thank Bynum for his service and bid him adieu.

Players like Howard only come around once in a lifetime, and while Bynum does have the potential to be a great NBA center, his ceiling will never be as high as Howard's.