Commentary

Lakers need Dwight Howard now

With a swap of centers, Lakers become NBA title favorites

Originally Published: January 20, 2012
By Chris Palmer | ESPN The Magazine
Dwight Howard, Kobe BryantJed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesThe only chance the Lakers have to beat the Heat is if Howard and Kobe are on the same team.

The Los Angeles Lakers left their one trip to South Beach this year with their egos battered and bruised. Buried not too deep beneath a mesmerizing performance by LeBron James, another poor outside shooting display from Los Angeles (6-for-20 from 3) and Kobe Bryant's ailing wrist is the fact that the Lakers simply cannot beat the Miami Heat -- not in a single game let alone a seven-game series.

The Lakers' goal is a championship. Nothing else. To meet that goal, the Lakers have to be built to take down multifaceted heavyweights such as the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks.

Then there is Miami. While currently tied for the fourth-best record in the league, it's widely felt that the Heat are the favorite to capture their second championship. As configured, the Lakers simply don't have the firepower or defensive completeness to beat Miami.

The brutal truth: The Lakers are 0-3 versus the Heat since the Big Three came to town.

There is a way to change all that. The Lakers hopes of toppling Miami lie in one blockbuster deal. They must trade Andrew Bynum to the Magic for Dwight Howard. Doing so would simultaneously make the Lakers the favorite to win the 2012 NBA title and secure their place as a legit contender for many years to come.

Chris Palmer

ESPN the Magazine