Great situation for Dwight Howard; Nuggets get better

August 10, 2012, 3:15 pm
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Theres a lot to digest whenit comes to the Dwight Howard trade. Heres a quick summation of the main parts of the deal,which is supposed to become official on Friday: Howard is going to the Lakers; AndrewBynum is going to Philly along with Jason Richardson; Andre Iguodala is headingto Denver and Orlando will acquire Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevicand a slew of protected picks.Lets get into it --Thefirst thought I had upon seeing this deal was that Howard now has a realisticshot to win an NBA title. That wasnt going to be the case if he was the bestplayer on the team he was playing for.As good as Howard is, hesnot refined enough as a basketball player and doesnt have the killer instinctto lead a team to a championship without significant help. He has that now.Howard wont be under the radar for the Lakers, but he certainly wont bedefended as conscientiously has he has been in the past.The reality is that Howard onthe Lakers is a weapon a nice weapon, but just a weapon nonetheless. Thatsthe scariest part of the trade. Lets face it, hes not the best player onL.A.; that would be Kobe Bryant. And hes not even the best post-up player onthe Lakers; that would be Pau Gasol.If theres one thing thatslikely to be a challenge for Howard its that his team probably wont go out oftheir way to spoon-feed him the ball in the low post. Howard always seemed towant the ball more in Orlando, but the reality is that Howard is not an elitelow-post player.He doesnt pass well and hedoesnt have a go-to move down there. What Howard gets down low is mostly afunction of being the biggest, most athletic player on the court.Howards off-court reputationis at an all-time low right now. The perception is that he got his GM (Otis Smith)and coach (Stan Van Gundy) fired and has now left the franchise inturmoil.But thats irrelevant at thispoint. Were talking Howard as a basketball player. Yes, hes dominant, but hislack of a basketball foundation and the fact that hes shown only marginalimprovement in his game over the past several years has beentroubling.Howard is now 26, supposedlyin his prime. Honestly, its tough to envision Howard getting much betterindividually. He wasnt much of a passer out of the low post early in hiscareer and he still isnt. His foul shooting is still poor. His low post gameis still mostly raw and forced.Watching him in a new rolewith the Lakers will be very interesting. Hes got strong personalities aroundhim, and hell likely have to tolerate and live with fewer touches and lessresponsibility.Quite frankly, it shouldserve him well. The more you ask Howard to do, the less effective he becomesoverall.The reality is the Lakersdont need Howard to be a dominant low-post player or even any betteroffensively than Bynum was. They need him to be a lane protector andshot-blocker which is what he does best and what helped earn him threeconsecutive defensive player of the year awards. --As faras the Warriors are concerned, it does appear that the Denver Nuggets gotbetter adding Iguodala. The Harrington loss isnt a big one, its Afflalothats more curious. Thats the second player in a short period of time (Nene)that the Nuggets gave big money to recently and then got off the player soonerrather than later.Makes you wonder that theymay know a little something more about Afflalo than everyone else who knows,maybe that hes not the defensive stopper hes made out to be. Just guessing,here, but probably not out of left field.Lets assume Afflalo is stillupward trending, and he very well may be. But even if thats true, Iguodala isstill a better player right now than Afflalo. Taking it a step farther,Iguodala is a very nice all-around player and certainly an upgrade talent-wise.I had Denver at about a No. 6seed before the trade, and I dont see that getting any worse after this deal.I do know there are some optimistic Warriors fans out there who believe theNuggets are very much in the Warriors radar.Regardless, it sure seemslike the Nuggets got better, dont you think?--When it comes to the 76ers,their management doesnt seem to be under any illusions. They advanced to thesecond round of the playoffs this year albeit winning in Round 1 over aDerrick Rose-less Bulls team but that certainly wasnt going to beenough.Getting Bynum gives them ashot to get a round deeper in the playoffs, and who knows? Maybe Bynum turnsinto the best center in the NBA in the next year or two. Maybe that doesnthappen, but it wasnt like Philly was knocking on Miamis door if it sattight.Whats most worth watchingwhen it comes to Bynum is whether or not he can remain efficient on the low boxnow that hell get more opportunities. --Conventionalwisdom is the Magic took a beating in this trade and today, that might betrue. Its going to be a long way back for the Magic, who just traded theirfranchise player. Still, there is something to be said for ridding itself of a playerwho had no interest in being there regardless of his talent level.Harrington, Afflalo andVucevic arent going to strike fear into the elite teams in the East. But dontforget Orlando was just 37-29 last year. So, its not like they were on theverge of a title anyway.