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Dwight Howard: A Fan’s Reaction to the Blockbuster Deal

August 15, 2012

Features, NBA, User Submissions

As I’m more than sure everyone has heard by now, ex-Magic star Dwight Howard is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. A trade, to be honest, I was not sure was going to happen.

My first reaction: it’s about time. I am more than tired of hearing about Howard’s trade demands, “possible destinations”, so on and so forth.

I think we can all agree that we’re glad this is over. Now, it’s the fun part, the waiting as well as the speculating, until finally, game time in late October.

Superman’s introduction to Los Angeles.

There’s no question that this trade is phenomenal for the Lakers. Getting Howard and just as importantly keeping Gasol was a move of pure brilliance on their part, and maybe a dumb move on the Magic’s part, but I suppose that’s speculation for another day however. The Lakers also get Chris Duhon; a 29 year old career back-up who will continue to be a back up to Steve Blake and newly aquired Steve Nash. They also receive Earl Clark; a 24 year old back up who averaged nearly 20 minutes a game in the post-season last year. I imagine a lot of that had to do with Howard being out. Obviously the great part for the Lakers is Dwight Howard, but I do feel all right about the Blake/Duhon combo. Two point guards who can run and gun if needed, that will be great for Mike Brown when he needs to sit Nash and Kobe. Granted, that would be a small line-up.

Sticking with Los Angeles, the greatest part or most underrated part I should say, is the fact that they managed to keep Pau Gasol when nearly everyone thought that was impossible. (Yeah, right, impossible for the Lakers? You’re kidding me, right?) They managed to get rid of Bynum, who in my opinion was a bit overrated. I personally believe that Bynum was too injury proned to invest in.

He’s only once in six seasons (while he has been in the league for seven, he didn’t have the chance to play 82 games this year, due to the lock out. He did however play 60 of 66 games this year) played the full 82 game schedule. While yes, I understand that Howard is coming off of a back injury, he does not have a history of not being in games due to health. Howard has played the full 82 games a total of five times.

I don’t think he would have meshed well in clutch situations from the example of how uncoachable he can be, provided he was healthy enough to be in more than one clutch situation anyway. They also had to offload forward Josh McRoberts and guard Christian Eyenga, and a 2017 first round draft pick. The Lakers made it out great in my opinion, especially because several other offers that were better from other teams to the Orlando Magic were turned down (according to various sources of course).

A welcoming message to Bynum from the city of Brotherly Love.

Moving on to the Philadelphia 76ers, they managed to get big man Andrew Bynum  but had to move swingman (and their ONLY franchise star since Allen Iverson) Andre Iguodala (who, for the record, was having an amazing run playing for Team USA in the Olympics) as well as two other players, forward Moe Harkless and center Nikola Vucevic. Personally, this part of the trade for the Sixers was all right.

I get that they receive Bynum, and provided he’s healthy, he’ll put up great numbers and be a good cornerstone to build around also providing he sticks around instead of bolting in free agency (like I would if I was him).

They also manage to get swingman Jason Richardson, who is 31 but can still run and gun with the young ones.

Unfortunately, Richardson is no Iguodala, but he’s a good enough replacement for now. The 76ers will be a bad team for quite a while if Bynum leaves right away. How much patience does a 24 yeard old have?

Now onto my favorite part of this, the Denver Nuggets receiving swingman Andre Iguodala; I think that does wonder for the Nuggets morale as well as their abilites to build around the 28 year old. I think that Denver was really lacking a closer, and we saw in the playoffs last season that Iguodala can close given the position to do so. He’s a great three-point shooter now, and has always been a high flier. He gives his teammates something to strive for in terms of furthering their own abilities.

He also gives George Karl someone to lead the team. I felt that while Denver wasn’t a bad team by any means, they really did lack an identity. It was easy to point out that while Denver was good, they really didn’t frighten anyone. Just maybe, with Iguodala, they will. Also, as a fun side note, I’d like to get everyone’s attention to smile when they realize that Philly sent yet another star player to Denver (remember Allen Iverson, I mentioned him a bit earlier).

The next part of the blockbuster trade is to see how the Orlando Magic came out of this. Honestly, Orlando came out of it just as I thought they would. Nothing they can do will save them right now. I’m deeply sorry Orlando fans, but you’re going to be a lottery team for a couple of years. The good news is, unlike when Shaq left all those years ago, you’re actually getting something out of it this time.  Foward Josh McRoberts as well as guard Christian Eyenga are now yours, along with several different first round draft picks. Personally, I agree with building through the draft.

While yes, you do not get the results you’re aiming for quite as quickly, I feel that you more out of a team that has spent years together. Although, what do I know? The counter-point to that is the Miami Heat and the 2008 Boston Celtics (and you can make the argument that the Lakers are going to be a part of this category, but more on that in a bit). My only support in that argument off hand is the Oklahoma City Thunder. Built through the draft, they’re quite the tough team.

If you’re an Orlando fan, you can hope that your new general manager will do half as well as the Thunder did (and hope that the talent out of the draft is just as good). It’s going to be a long couple of years Orlando, but just keep your head up, take a deep breath, and wait your turn. It will come in time if all those pieces are utilized correctly.

How does the effect the league you may ask? Well, depending on whom you ask they either have the Lakers at the top of the conference and maybe even league or they have pessimistic or realistic views about the Lakers outlook. Maybe they’ll need time to put it together, I’ve heard. What do I think? Well, I think that the Lakers are obviously a ton more dangerous. You just replaced the oft-injured one time All-Star Bynum for multi-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner and six time All-Star Dwight David Howard.

I’m pretty sure that one heck of an upgrade. Now, put him beside a playing-like-a-boss Pau Gasol (did anyone else see his stat line in the Olympic gold-medal game? 24 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists), and arguably the best point guard in the game in two time MVP Steve Nash, why wouldn’t they have a shot at a title? Let’s not forget, the Lakers do have five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant.

He’s arguably the best closer in the game, and he has ice water running through his veins. He won’t take no for an answer, and he wants that sixth championship badly. This team isn’t getting any younger unfortunately, and that’s its biggest downfall but this team is built to win now.

Can’t forget the defending Western Conference Champions.

Realistically, I think it’s hard to automatically put the 2012-2013 Lakers in the top spot just yet. First of all, they have yet to play a single game together. Howard isn’t even cleared to participate in any kind of basketball related items yet. Let’s not forget that the Oklahoma City Thunder isn’t just going to be brushed aside, OKC is built to win now and later and they’ll be around for quite a while. Durant has only and is only continuing to improve. I don’t really see any other team challenging the Thunder beside the Lakers. I think what makes the Thunder better is their strong bench (James Harden, Thabo Sefolosha). If we’re talking about match-ups, I believe OKC won’t be able to run as easily against the Lakers now that Nash is controlling that offense (well, hopefully controlling, we’ll see what Mike Brown does). He is the king of the fast break, so Westbrook and Harden may have their hands full. There are other great match-ups on the court there (see: Kobe vs. Durant) but we’ll move on.

I suppose you can say I’m sleeping on the San Antonio Spurs. After being exceptionally well coached yet again, they still find a way to be beaten. Best record or not, it’s just not enough against the younger teams. Although, I do find it ironic that they run and gun more like the Phoenix Suns, and that result is the same as Phoenix’s (close, but no cigar).

Honestly, I don’t see anyone else in that conference giving the Lakers or the Thunder any trouble. Denver will be nice with Iguodala, but won’t seriously compete, and while Minnesota will be fun to watch, I don’t think they can compete with the top tier of the NBA (yet). Memphis, well, I’m not sure what to think about Memphis. I think Rudy Gay needs to improve (I get that he’s already an all-star, but can he compete against Durant/Bryant? That’s a negetory.) and be a leader to get that team any further. We know that Randolph and (Marc) Gasol (who has come into his own and improved very nicely) can play.

Maybe they’re just a trade or two away from competing with the top tier (I’m just going to ignore the beating they put on the Spurs a couple of years ago, it’s all about match-ups, right?).

Okay, okay. Fine. I hear you, enough about the west. What does this mean about your Miami Heat or Boston Celtics or Chicago Bulls? Well, let’s be upfront here: the Lakers, the Thunder and maybe even the Spurs would sweep the floor with Boston right now. I’m sorry, but I just do not think Boston’s really going anywhere important. I get they have Terry and still maintain the most emotional player in the game in Garnett, but I feel their chemistry is just too shattered with the departure of a hurt (emotionally, and maybe a bit physically) Ray Allen, and a disgruntled, always in trade talks, top-five point guard in Rajon Rondo.

It’s hard to win a championship if you’re focused on who hates who and whose ego is in the way (counter argument: see Kobe and Shaq during the three-peat; counter-counter argument: see Kobe and Shaq in 2004). Hopefully, Paul Pierce can prove me wrong for you Boston fans, but that’s just what I think. Now this season, Chicago will probably be a bit under the radar with Derrick Rose still rehabbing the terrible ACL injury he suffered during the playoffs this past season. The Bulls remained quite resilient in the regular season without Rose, but we know that the playoff’s are a different story than the regular season. Without a 100 percent Rose, there’s no way they can compete. So, there’s really no reason to compare them against OKC, LA or San Antonio, yet.

Now onto Mi-a-mi. Well, first thing is first: the Heat are the defending champions for a reason. LeBron and the over-shadowed Dwayne Wade put everything on their shoulders and pushed them through to a final. With a healthy Bosh and a healthy Ray Allen, watch out. This team will be better than the defending championship team (barring injuries). Even Mario Chalmers has improved, hitting big shots in his own right and that’s great to see if you’re a Heat fan, because center and point guard were their weakest points. While the Heat still don’t have much of a center, one isn’t really needed with everyone’s attention on the two, three and four spots. Bosh can play center if need be and we know LeBron can play one through five at any given time. How does this team match up again the Thunder? Well, we know that answer.

The 2012 NBA Champions, The Miami Heat.

If these two teams were to play again, with the Heat bench suddenly turning it on and nailing every single three they shoot up (live by the three) then OKC stands no chance. Now, if that doesn’t happen (and it probably won’t happen again, seriously, I doubt there’s no way they shoot nearly 50 percent from behind the arc again) the Miami Heat will be in a lot of trouble (die by the three). I think if OKC matures a bit down the stretch (see: not turning the ball over in the final four minutes in a five point game) they could it a great series, and it may run a full seven games.

So, if (and that’s a big if) the Lakers can find a way through the west to end up in the Finals against a Miami team, I think we’d be in for a treat of a set of games. I feel that the Lakers starting five is a bit better than the Heat’s, but you can argue either way. Kobe would be guarded by Wade (unless Kobe gets going, then I’m sure LeBron will take over on that) and vise versa on both accounts. LeBron on World Peace (easy one for LeBron, I don’t care what anyone says about the defensive skills of World Peace, LeBron would destroy him, easily). Chalmers and Nash. While both players there suffer defensively, Nash is easily the better shooter, driver and assist man. Sorry Chalmers, maybe your time will come. Bosh and Gasol.

What a great match-up this would be. Listed at 6’11” and 7′ respectively, it would be near even there. Both players can shoot, and both players can play. I’m not a huge Bosh fan (I don’t believe he deserves a max-contract, but that’s for another time) but I won’t deny he can hit big shots (and, of course, three’s). Next it would be, Howard and well, does it really matter? There is no one on the Miami roster that can legitimately guard Howard, and in this series, you can’t afford to move LeBron or Bosh to attempt to do so. It would come down to bench production I imagine or huge games from Howard, but for that, we’ll just have to wait and see.

To wrap everything up neatly here, I think that it’s a lot to ask of a team who was swept out of the playoffs last season to suddenly win an NBA title, no matter who they’ve received via trades, or free-agency. Chemistry plays a huge part. So, if the Lakers lose out, don’t fret. Provided Howard stays, Los Angeles can still be dangerous, but I wouldn’t say they’re number one in the league just yet. It may take an extra season or two. I guess the question is, how much patience do you have Laker fans?

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About Curtis Dasch

Curtis Dasch is currently a student at Bowling Green State University, majoring in English. He is a go-to for NBA opinions and knowledge of the intangibles, but enjoys most sports in general. Considered a "jack-of-all-trades," he also hosts a weekly gaming podcast known as Satellite Gaming's Satellcasts.

View all posts by Curtis Dasch

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