After the 4-team blockbuster that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers, many NBA analysts and fans think they know what is going to happen to the teams involved. Everyone believes that the Lakers are going to win numerous championships and every year will be a Lakers-Heat NBA Finals matchup. Some say the 76ers just got so much better by simply adding Andrew Bynum. The Nuggets are apparently not even worth mentioning and the Magic are now a .500 ball club. I am here to give my point-of-view on this trade.
The Lakers have had a fantastic offseason. After the 2 consecutive championships in LA, the fans and NBA followers have grown accustomed to the Lakers making it the Conference Finals, if not the NBA Finals. But after two years of complete embarrassment against the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder, the team knew it needed a shakeup.
The first thing they did this offseason was complete a sign-and-trade deal with the Suns to acquire 2-time MVP Steve Nash. Nash gives the Lakers a new pick-and-roll partner for Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard (was Andrew Bynum until August 9th). Nash brings excellent passing, veteran leadership, experience, and a whole new scoring threat to the table. Then the Lakers revamped their bench by adding Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison and re-signing Jordan Hill.
But, what will Dwight Howard bring to the table?
Dwight Howard was an unstoppable scorer and rebounder Orlando. He could do anything with the ball from violently dunking it, put-back slams, rebound and lay-ups; he controlled the paint.
His biggest flaw was his free throws/jump shot. A career 59 percent free throw shooter, Howard has struggled mightily to put the ball in the basket from the stripe. If he cannot do it from the stripe, how can he do it from anywhere else. Howard has made very few jump shots in his career. He likes the bank shot from a very favorable angle. But even then, it is rare for the ball to find the net. He likes to shoot jump shots, which is worry some. As a jump shot from the big guy is likely to result in a wasted possession, there is no one there for the rebound. If you subtract the jump shot, you have the most dominant center in the NBA on the defensive and offensive ends of the court.
Despite a fantastic front court of Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, and a back court of Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant, I do not see this working out for the Lakers, in terms of a championship, until next year. Just like the Miami Heat’s “Big Three”, the Lakers have a “Big Four”. I do not think most teams can beat this group, but this acquisition presents itself with one fundamental flaw: Selfishness.
It is hard for me to think that Kobe Bryant and his game of pure scoring and Dwight Howard’s game of scoring and rebounding can coexist with out something having to give. Kobe does not like to pass the ball; he wants to shoot and attack the basket. Dwight Howard simply demands the ball in the paint. If both players score 30 per game, Steve Nash will not score. If Steve Nash does not score, no one else will score. The combination of Kobe and Pau Gasol has worked for years. But, the combination of Pau, Dwight, and Kobe, although highly intimidating, cannot coexist.
Pau Gasol is in LA to do what Dwight Howard is now there to do. Unless Dwight starts missing dunks and Pau gets the rebound, I do not see Pau Gasol scoring that much. Unless Kobe decides to stop scoring and let Dwight score or vice versa, it is hard for them to coexist. Unless everyone on the Lakers squad starts missing every one of their shots in every game (for some freak reason), it will be hard for Dwight, Pau, and Kobe to coexist. All three demand the exact same thing: the basketball. If one were to undo everything the Lakers have done this offseason (send Steve Nash back to Phoenix and Dwight to Orlando), and then trade Nash to the Magic or Dwight to the Suns, that would be an unbelievable “Big 2”. That would work tremendously. We will see how this thing plays out in LA. My prediction for the Lakers is a season that sees a record of 66-16, losing in the Conference Finals or NBA Finals.
The next biggest winner is, of course, the Philadelphia 76ers. They got a much-needed big man in Andrew Bynum.
But, Philly lost major athleticism in Andre Iguodala. Andrew Bynum brings everything that Dwight Howard does to the table. He is just the second best center in the NBA. What I love about this trade is, the whole team improves mightily. Evan Turner gets more minutes at the SF position, Thaddeus Young can focus more on scoring, and Andrew Bynum becomes the “Franchise Player” (as said famously by Allen Iverson). The acquisition of Bynum brings playoff experience and a star at the center position to Philly. Bynum was mightily underrated as a Laker because he had to play with the likes of the “Frnachise Player” of LA, Kobe Bryant. The Sixers also acquired Jason “J-Rich” Richardson from the Magic. Richardson is a fantastic shooter. He is one of the few players in the league who can pull up, off-the-dribble and knock down 3’s. But, both players have the same exact flaws, immaturity and the factor of not being athletic. Both players have a history of getting in trouble with their teams and the law. J-Rich has been pulled over for DUI’s and speeding multiple times. Andrew Bynum infamously shot a three after he did not get his way on the last possession in a game against the Warriors, last year. Otherwise, the Sixers are big winners.
There was a price for claiming such prizes. The 76ers lost a long time Philly favorite and Philly villain, Andre Iguodala. Iguodala always filled out a stat sheet and was one of the most athletic players in the league. He could run the floor and throw that ball down, about as well as Lebron. Although he had his flaws in shooting and decision-making, he was a good player and he will be missed in Philly. Losing Iggy puts a question mark at the small forward position. I say the 76ers go 52-30, losing in the Conference Semis or Finals.
In my mind, the Nuggets actually gained more than they lost. The added offensive athleticism, tremendous defense, and a decent jump shot in Andre Iguodala. But, they gave up Arron Afflalo, and Al Harrington. Arron and Al were their best shooters and best players. They managed to save their next best in Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, and Javale McGee. It will be interesting to watch Iguodala and Andre Miller work together. I project the Denver Nuggets to end the season at 41-41, maybe claiming the 8th seed in the West.
The Magic are the biggest losers of this trade. They receive a bunch of shooters in Al Harrington and Arron Afflalo, a couple of decent rookies and sophomores in Nik Vucevic and Moe Harkless, Forward Josh McRoberts, and Guard Christian Eyenga. They really have no big man after losing Dwight. This squad went from a bunch of shooters and a big man to just a bunch of shooters. The Magic will go 37-45, not qualifying for the playoffs.