LA Lakers: Kobe Bryant Can Still Be a Top-5 Player, with Dwight Howard’s Help

When the trade that brought Dwight Howard to Los Angeles was first announced, some analysts immediately began to question how Kobe Bryant would impact Howard's experience as a Laker, but Howard's impact on Bryant may be just as interesting.

According to some reports, a potential relationship between Bryant and Howard seemed doomed from the start since D12 was unwilling to accept being relegated to a third wheel behind Bryant and Pau Gasol, but it seems that hurdle has been cleared.

At least, if you take Howard's introductory interview at face value.

There was no hint of a rift or tension between Howard and Bryant during the former's first venture behind the microphone as a Laker, and while his interview was filled with humor, there is nothing funny about the Lakers' task in 2013.

General manager Mitch Kupchak has built the 2012-13 Lakers into a team that should theoretically compete for an NBA championship immediately, but much of that hinges on how quickly the team's individual superstars can become a cohesive unit.

Point guard Steve Nash will be mostly responsible for establishing chemistry and making sure his teammates get enough touches, but the Lakers' title hopes will likely come down to the performance of the team's two biggest stars.

Howard and Bryant are both considered to be among the top 10 players in the NBA, but they could each be top 5 players by the end of the season if they are willing to make the necessary sacrifices in their respective games.

Howard already is one of the league's top five players, and where Bryant ranks is a highly subjective matter, but to rate him at the bottom of that elite tier or just outside of it is a fair assessment.

Many people feel that LeBron James and Kevin Durant have clearly surpassed Bryant as a player, and I have heard Kobe mentioned as no more than the NBA's eighth-best player behind stars such...

About the Author