Lakers Need to Trade for Dwight Howard, No Matter How Long It Takes

I will say it, since no one else will: The 2013 Los Angeles Lakers will not win an NBA title without acquiring a healthy Dwight Howard. Yes, that is a slight towards Andrew Bynum, even though I think he is clearly the second-best center in basketball. The reality is, the trend of the league is towards hyper-athleticism and Bynum is a plodder, not a greyhound. 

On the surface, it seems as though a Bynum for Howard swap is merely about upgrading the defense and yes, that is an overwhelming sentiment. But considering the Lakers have gotten even older (and by proxy, slower) with the acquisition of Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison, the roster is in need of someone athletic enough to potentially erase a lot of mistakes on the defensive end. There is no player in basketball (LeBron James included) that covers up his teammates to the degree that Dwight Howard has, can and will.

And yes, there is no secret that the Lakers need an elite defender in the middle. Steve Nash is an abject liability on defense (though to be fair, so are Derek Fisher and Steve Blake). Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace are longer the elite defenders they once were, particularly in Bryant's case. Pau Gasol is merely adequate at the power forward spot. Bynum could give you flashes as evidenced by his 30-rebound effort against the Spurs, but is not anywhere close to being the defender that Howard is.

Why does this matter so much? Well it's two fold. First off, numbers do not tell the entire story of a defender's ability. Yes, Howard is a superior rebounder (14.5 vs. 11.8 for Bynum in 2012), but it is the effect Howard has in the paint as well as his quickness to recover that makes him so invaluable. The Lakers have a tendency to sag their defense as a result of their lack of perimeter quickness. 

With Howard, the Lakers can become a little more aggressive, which could help against the open three-point shooting that has plagued their defense,...

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