According to AccuScore, the Lakers are expected to gain 6.3 wins with the addition of Howard, which in last year’s standings would have been good enough to vault them from the third seed in the Western Conference to the top spot. Adding Howard and Steve Nash to a lineup that already includes Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol gives L.A. a “Big Four” that will be as formidable as any the league has ever seen. With Nash and Howard, the Lakers now have the NBA leaders in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and free-throw percentage over the last seven seasons.
Howard could impact more than just the post for the Lakers. Among players that played at least 10 games last season, Orlando had five with a three-point percentage greater than 35 percent. On their current roster, the Lakers have just two such players: Nash and Steve Blake.
One question that could persist thoughout is this: How will Howard and Gasol coexist? While Gasol and Andrew Bynum, who was shipped to the Philadelphia 76ers as part of the trade, had a great deal of success playing together in the regular season over the past two years, it wasn’t the same story in the playoffs. The Lakers were actually outscored in the last two postseasons when Gasol and Bynum were on the court at the same time. L.A. sees Howard as an upgrade over Bynum – although their numbers were very similar last season – but the team’s ability to match up with smaller lineups could be an issue.
NOT SO MAGICAL
It comes as no surprise that losing Howard will be a serious blow to the Magic. After making the playoffs in each of the last six seasons, Orlando is likely to take a major step back after losing Howard and Jason Richardson and getting little in return in terms of impact players. AccuScore predicts the Magic to lose 15.2 wins this season without Howard and finish 14th in the East.
One look at how the Magic have performed with and without Howard on the floor tells the story. Over the last three seasons, the team outscored opponents by 7.9 points per 48 minutes with Howard on the court. When he was on the bench, Orlando was outscored by 2.7 points per 48 minutes.
DEFENSIVE STAND IN DENVER
The Denver Nuggets’ acquisition of Andre Iguodala as part of the Howard deal might fly under the radar, but his addition to the lineup should prove to be a major upgrade for the Nuggets, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
For more on what each team can expect after the blockbuster trade, click here.