Dwight Howard Is Los Angeles Lakers’ Only Hope for Success Next Season

The Los Angeles Lakers made a calculated risk when they acquired center Dwight Howard's services from the Orlando Magic last offseason, and now Howard is an unrestricted free agent. If the Lake Show is going to have any measure of success next season, the organization must figure out a way to re-sign him.

It is no secret that the Lakers' 2012-13 season didn't go according to plan. The Lakers were considered to be among the league's top contenders for the NBA title, but injuries plagued their stars throughout the season, including Howard, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and even Kobe Bryant.

Those injuries resulted in Los Angeles squeaking into the playoffs by virtue of a seventh-place finish in the Western Conference. The Lakers got a tough draw in the first round as they had to face the eventual Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs made quick work of the Lakers as they sent them packing after just four games.

Howard was criticized often over the course of the season, as the team didn't mesh as well as many had hoped it would. Even so, Howard's numbers were more than respectable as he averaged more than 17 points and 12 rebounds, along with 2.5 blocks per contest. He had to take a backseat to Bryant from a scoring perspective for much of the season, so dropping three points per game from the previous season wasn't a big surprise.

Although the Spurs handily disposed of the Lakers, Howard held up his end of the bargain. He was essentially right on his regular-season averages during the postseason, but he just didn't have enough help. Bryant missed the final two regular-season games as well as the playoffs with a torn Achilles, so D12 was pretty much left to solve everything himself.

Howard dealt with a torn labrum in his own right last season, so he was never really at full strength. Despite that, he put in an honest effort every game and fought through the pain. If not for his contributions,...

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