Dwight Howard may have been a really good player in Orlando, leading an undermanned team to the NBA Finals during a time when the Eastern Conference teams were no better than the JV team at your local high school. He built himself a legacy that he could carry a team to wins. Well... he could do that without any pressure on him whatsoever. That was the beauty of Orlando. Nobody expected them to win titles every year. But Laker fans and players expect to be there every season however. So does Dwight have what it takes to lead a Laker team to a championship?
I don't think Dwight was ever quite 100% physically this past season. There were times when I was like, "Wow! That looked like vintage Dwight" and other times when I couldn't distinguish if it was him or Kwame Brown. I know that is harsh, but honestly he looked like a shell of his former self way too often. Obviously, returning from a major back injury was not going to make for a smooth transition back to elite status. The problem was that Dwight just doesn't seem like the guy that the Lakers need at this point.
The Lakers need to find somebody soon to build around and into the future. Kobe is on his last leg, literally, following this achilles injury. Does Dwight Howard possess the right skill set to be the next Laker championship legacy? I sure don't think so. Don't get me wrong, Dwight Howard is an elite player. The things he does on the court sometimes are without equal. The problem is with his personality. He is way too relaxed to be a leader on a championship team. Hence, the fact that he would be great as a No. 2 option to a guy like Kobe Bryant.
Dwight Howard doesn't seem to want to be a second option however, and that is what will lead to him signing with another team and the Lakers seeking another option as the next dynasty player. Where Dwight lands won't change things for his next team. The guy will forever be the jokester who has unlimited talent, but can't quite bring that championship drive in crunch time. He is not the first player to be like this and he won't be the last one.
The question then becomes, who will the Lakers look to take over that leadership role on the team? My mind goes straight to Chris Paul. A dominant point guard is a necessity in the league these years and Paul is the most dominant of them all. I have thought of him as the best point guard in the league for the past 3 or 4 seasons, but he has that nasty streak that as a biased observer you hate to see playing against your team. If he were a Laker I would love that killer instinct he possesses.
Maybe the goal should be to take a year to build some solid role players and try to sign Lebron James next year? I know Laker fans don't want to wait a year and Kobe won't have any of that, but maybe that is the play here. Lebron James makes any team an instant title contender. Wouldn't it be funny to see him join the Bobcats? Lakers fans don't like Lebron, but we all know that we need somebody like that to take this team to the promised land once again. Who else is there, that could do that instantly?
I think the question was, do we want Dwight back? The answer is "yes" only if he can get serious on the court all the time. Dwight is a great center and a great player to have on your team. He changes the game in so many ways. He makes a decent defensive team a whole hell of a lot better and yet he can add some things on the offensive side of the ball too. But he will never be a 25 point a game scorer, at least until he develops some new moves.
Dwight we will welcome you back with open arms under one condition... convince yourself and Kobe to take a pay cut so you can sign some better players for the bench. If you do that the Lakers family will forever be in your debt.
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