Dwight Howard to Lakers: How It Will Swing 2012 NBA Title Race

With the Dwight Howard saga finally over and the center headed to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team blockbuster deal (h/t ESPN), it's time for the NBA paradigm to shift back to actual action on the hardwood.

Due to recent bias, most pundits seem fixated on an "inevitable" NBA Finals meeting between the Lakers and Miami Heat—the NBA's real-life versions of the Avengers and Justice League.

And considering the level of talent on both sides, it's doesn't take a nuclear physicist to figure out why.

Howard and new Lakers point guard Steve Nash, acquired earlier this offseason in a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns, give L.A a combined 35 All-Star appearances among its first six rotation players.

Miami has a "paltry" 33 appearances.

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. There are plenty of other talented teams that should vie for the Larry O'Brien Trophy come next June.

But how does Howard's move from Orlando to L.A. really swing the 2012 championship race? Here are a few ways. 


Goodbye Secondary Western Conference Contenders

Yes that means you, Clippers, Grizzlies and Mavericks. Have fun competing for that second-round ouster, because that's as far as your teams are getting get next season.

There's a reason basketball (and the NBA in particular) is the most predictable sport: It's that talent almost always wins out. Chemistry, team camaraderie and great coaching all go out the window when you have a metric ton of All-Stars.

That's why the Miami Heat won the NBA championship last season. The team had the world's best player playing at his optimum strength.

Talent wins.

And that's why with Howard's trade comes the guarantee that either the Lakers, Thunder or Spurs will represent the Western Conference. Each of those three franchises has championship-level individual talent and depth that no other West...

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