Los Angeles Lakers: Is LA the Best in the West Without Dwight Howard?

Once again, the Dwight Howard trade talks have stalled. 

As crazy as it might seem, Howard might be staying in Orlando longer than we might have imagined. His reluctance to sign anywhere long-term has really stifled any legitimate talks.

With the Lakers unwilling to pull the trigger on the Orlando center, it seems like it's best for the team to look toward their roster without D-12 for the time being.

If LA picked up Howard, it would be hard not to consider them the most talented team in the league (including the Heat and Thunder).

Let's be clear: The Lakers are still one of the best teams in the league without Howard.

A starting lineup that includes Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will keep the Lakers in the conversation for a title.

Add Antawn Jamison, Jordan Hill and Metta World Peace to the mix and LA could be moved to the forefront of this conversation.

But is this team the best team in the Western Conference?

To answer this question, let's analyze the landscape of the West.

Right now, there are five teams that can legitimately win a Western Conference title: the Thunder, Spurs, Lakers, Clippers and Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies are likely the fifth-best team in the conference, partly because Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay just do not work well together.

In theory, Memphis can be the best team out West because they have all of the parts in place. However, theory does not dictate actuality.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Oklahoma City Thunder are the reigning Western Conference champions after running through the playoffs with their youth.

As we know, OKC fell short of an NBA title after LeBron James and the Miami Heat took them down.

Even so, this team was as impressive as anyone this past season. After the Thunder beat the Lakers in five games during the 2012 playoffs, it w...

About the Author