Dwight Howard’s Early Return from Injury Makes Andrew Bynum Trade Look Better

In case you were feeling sorry for the Lakers, take solace in the news that summer prize Dwight Howard "was a full participant in Saturday's practice" (via ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne).

Of course, we all know this organization never had much cause for buyer's remorse after trading away the 24-year-old Andrew Bynum for a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Whatever your stance on Shaquille O'Neal's claim that Howard trails Bynum and Brook Lopez as the league's best center, it's hard to argue that the Lakers are better off for now.

And all the more so with Howard's rapid recovery from April back surgery.

He hasn't just gotten back on the court in short order; he's looked good in the process (via ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin):

A source who witnessed Howard at the portion of practice that was closed to the media described Howard's level of play to ESPNLosAngeles.com as "unbelievable."

"He was dunking everything in sight," the source said. "He looks like he can play in an NBA game today."

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers are still waiting on Andrew Bynum to start practicing after he received precautionary treatment for his knees this summer. The temporary setback should affect his season, but it puts Howard's impressive recovery in perspective.

We were prepared to wait longer for Howard.

For a guy with the potential to make a very good team into a great one, that kind of wait is perfectly acceptable—and, as it turns out, unnecessary.

There was never a serious risk that Dwight Howard would miss significant time this season, but until you see a guy display the kind of explosive form for which he's known, it's hard to be especially confident about the season lying ahead. More importantly, Howard's quick return should actually yield some results.

After all, he's got some adjusting to do before these games start counting for ...

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