Could Magic Johnson Be Key to Making Dwight Howard Next Lakers Great?

Kobe Bryant may very well work his magic to create a few final playoff runs in his NBA career, but the Los Angeles Lakers are in need of identifying the next face of the franchise.

And one Lakers legend is doing everything he can to make sure that player is Dwight Howard:

I had an outstanding lunch with Dwight Howard yesterday!

— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 20, 2013 Howard had been tabbed as Bryant's heir apparent when the Lakers acquired him from the Orlando Magic in a four-team blockbuster trade in the summer of 2012. Howard clearly looked the part, as his luggage was lined with six All-Star selections and three Defensive Player of the Year awards.

But the L.A. Howard has looked drastically different from the Orlando version. Limited by the aftereffects of his April 2012 back surgery and a nagging shoulder issue, he's been good but not great—16.4 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

The aging Lakers core has been a far cry from the potent perimeter players Howard shared the floor with during his Orlando days—yes, the same teammates Howard claimed "nobody wanted" in the days leading up to his highly anticipated return to the Amway Center (via's Matt Moore).

Considering that Howard is only one of two players in the Lakers' top-eight rotation under the age of 32, it's hard to tell what he'll be surrounded with if he chooses to re-sign over the summer.

But Johnson sees the vast potential of the Lakers' new "Superman" and understands he could be talented enough to keep LA relevant through the upcoming transitional period. You can't teach Howard's size (6'11", 265 lbs) or athleticism, but you can certainly help him raise the level of play to maximize his natural ability.

Johnson is just the second Lakers legend to reach out to Howard this season. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the league's all-time leading score...

About the Author