As Dwight Howard contemplates his next professional move, Laker Nation anxiously waits. While D12 didn’t fully grab the reins in L.A. this season, he is most certainly a franchise player that can take over as Kobe’s legendary career reaches its end.
It would seem that re-signing is the most lucrative and smart decision for the young center, however the Houston Rockets are mentioned as a tantalizing option. With a much younger core, no state taxation, and a willingness to focus on the low post game, Howard’s interest in Houston makes sense.
To properly assess the potential move, I present a statistical comparison of the two stars currently at the helm of their teams; James Harden and Kobe Bryant. Conveniently, both teams made the playoffs and the stars each played 78 games this season.
Below you’ll find the side by side of key statistics for the two stars:
Looking at these numbers, it seems that Harden and Bryant compare favorably in offensive efficiency. While Kobe has received the label of volume shooter most of his career, Harden has escaped such branding. When evaluating this past season (Harden’s first as a true #1), he plays much the same as Bryant.
While the Lakers clearly underachieved with their roster this season, injuries allowed only 19 games with the intended starting 5. Houston had the more productive roster with ascending Chandler Parsons (15.5ppg, 3.5apg, 5.3rpg) and solid big Omer Asik (10.1ppg, 11.7 rpg) among other contributors (Lin, Brooks, etc.)
To say Dwight would seamlessly integrate into the Rockets’ offense and become the focal point is naive. Harden finally has a chance to shine and has shown a penchant for shooting often. Parsons would not be a likely candidate to have his shots reduced either. With the aging Lakers roster it is clear that within 2 years Howard would get to take his place as the face of the franchise. In Houston, the young roster will have a chance to grow together, but Dwight will never get the true respect of superstar.
If his awkward departure from Orlando showed us anything, it’s that Dwight yearns to be considered one of the great centers to ever play the game. Can he achieve that as a second and possibly third option with the Rockets? Given the salary cap room the Lakers have set for 2014, this is clearly the best situation to meet Howard’s needs and desires.
By surviving a few more years with Kobe Bryant, the Lakers can tailor their roster to an inside-out game featuring the All-Star center.
It may seem like a match on paper, but the flighty Howard will quickly tire of Harden’s Kobe impression and struggle to shine amongst the improving youngsters already in place.
While not perfect bedfellows, the Lakers and Howard are the most logical match for each other. Let’s hope Dwight buys into the purple and gold legacy and becomes the next great Laker big.
This was an article by Wil Charters. You can follow him on Twitter here: @wilcharters