Will L.A. Lakers Postseason Success Impact Dwight Howard’s Free-Agency Decision?

The Los Angeles Lakers managed to finish the 2012-13 NBA regular season on a 5-0 roll, despite the absence of point guard Steve Nash and a devastating injury sustained by team leader Kobe Bryant.

No one would have been surprised if the Lakers had folded in their final two games without Bryant, but instead, they seemed to gain strength from their adversity. And rather than ending the year as the Western Conference's No. 8 seed, they actually overtook the Houston Rockets to finish seventh.

The Lakers' victory over Houston on the final day of the regular season pushed them into a more favorable first-round pairing with the San Antonio Spurs to go along with the confidence and momentum that comes with finishing the season with five straight wins.

But what happens next?

Even though the Lakers avoided a first-round matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder, they will still be heavy underdogs against the Spurs, and there are few people outside of Los Angeles predicting a Lakers upset.

However, the Lakers did finish out the second half of the regular season with one more win and one fewer loss than the Spurs, and it doesn't hurt that one of the Lakers' victories in their final five games came against the Spurs.

That doesn't mean much when it comes to the NBA's second season, but I wouldn't pencil the Spurs into the second round just yet, especially if Dwight Howard has anything to say about it.

In a twist of irony, Bryant's injury may have been the best thing to happen to Howard all season, because it has forced him to assume the leadership role that is usually reserved for Bryant.

The irony doesn't end there. Because while losing Kobe may have boosted Howard's confidence, it may also end up helping the Lakers by providing a glimpse of what the future may hold for a Dwight-led franchise.

So far, so good.

While Howard struggled through back and shoulder...

About the Author