West now a three-team race

Howard trade helps Lakers join Spurs and Thunder as conference favorites

Updated: August 11, 2012, 4:33 PM ET
By Neil Paine | Basketball-Reference.com
Kobe Bryant, Dwight HowardFernando Medina/NBAE/Getty ImagesNow teammates, Howard's addition makes Kobe and Co. Western Conference favorites.

After roughly a year of near-constant drama, the Orlando Magic finally sent Dwight Howard on his way Thursday night, dealing the mega-talented center to (who else?) the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team swap that also involved the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers. In doing so, they also changed the landscape of the NBA with a single trade.

So let's do a little surveying -- what does the Howard deal mean for the parties involved, as well as the rest of the league, in the 2012-13 season?

Neil Paine writes for FiveThirtyEight, the data-supported sports, politics and culture site coming soon from ESPN.