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Lakers add Dwight Howard in four-team deal

The Los Angeles Lakers may have just made themselves the favorite to win the Western Conference next season by adding center Dwight Howard in a four team trade Thursday night.

Also in the trade the Denver Nuggets received Andre Iguodala while the Philadelphia 76ers got Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson. The Orlando Magic took a big haul, getting Aaron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Hartless and a protected 1st-round draft pick from each of the other three teams.

The Dwight Howard parade is finally over and the Los Angeles Lakers may have just made themselves the favorite to win the Western Conference by getting him.

The Magic got a major haul for Howard and Richardson. Afflalo established himself as a good scoring point guard in Denver after averaging 15.2 points per game last season, following a campaign where he averaged 12.6 points per game in 2010-11. Afflalo will likely come off the bench behind Jameer Nelson. Meanwhile, Harrington has bounced around the NBA since coming into the league in 1998, playing for five teams, but he is a good offensive forward who makes plays at the basket. He is a major downgrade from Howard on the defensive end and is not a particularly great rebounder but can create his own shot. Last year he averaged 14.2 points per game, though he is on the downside of his career.

Vucevic will likely provide the defense in the paint for the Magic, coming over from Philadelphia. The 7-footer has good length and long arms that helps him grab rebounds at a high rate but his offense game is still developing. As a rookie he averaged 5.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 15.9 minutes. Vucevic’s rebounding rate would give him 14.4 in a 48-minute game.

Those three players should all have an impact on the Magic but they essentially gained four first round draft picks by getting Harkless. The 76ers used the 15th overall pick in this summer’s draft on the St. John’s prospect. Harkless was an All-Big East honorable mention last season after averaging 15.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game as a freshman. He has great athleticism and does a great job getting to the rim. While Harkless has been knocked for not giving a full effort on defense, if he did he has the athleticism to be very good on that side of the court.

All four teams really benefit from this trade. The 76ers finally get rid of Iguodala’s big contract after shopping him for the past year and they get a seven-year veteran who is only 24-years-old with plenty of room still to grow and develop. Bynum needs to mature from a mental standpoint less than a physical standpoint but it is very clear just how talented he has become. Last season he averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. The 7-foot, 285-pound defender has grown into his big frame and has filled it out with a lot of muscle over the past few seasons, which has allowed him to pound his way inside to the rim but where his real value is, is on the defensive end.

Bynum alters shots with his size and strength and his tremendous shot blocking ability make people second-guess attempting to score around him. He won’t get out on the wing to defend but he is one of the best post defenders in the NBA. Bynum is a free agent after the season but the 76ers will be hoping that the local product would be willing to sign and extension with his hometown team.

Richardson, though on the downside of his career, is still a capable scorer off the bench. With the Magic he averaged 11.6 points per game last season but he is a serious liability on the defensive end because he lacks lateral quickness.

Andre Iguodala has followed in LeBron James’ footsteps of becoming a “point forward” and has developed into one of the best in the NBA.

The Nuggets gave the most to the Magic in this trade but walk away with a tremendous player coming over from Philadelphia. Iguodala is not one of the top superstars in the NBA but he might be the best player on that next level down and is showing that in London with Team USA. Last year Iguodala averaged 12.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game.

Iggy is an incredibly athletic small forward that will really help out the Nuggets and he might be the best perimeter defender in the league because of his length, anticipation, speed and quickness and that is the exact same skill set that helps him put the ball in the net.

But the story here is Howard going to the Lakers. They already added Steve Nash and looked like they were going to really be able to contend with the Oklahoma City Thunder with him but now with Howard, the Lakers could be the favorite in the Western Conference to get to the NBA finals.

Howard will miss a lot of next season as he comes back from a back injury but once he does he will really help the Lakers out. Howard may be the best individual post player in the NBA right now, shown by three-straight Defensive Player of the Year awards.

The guy is huge and hard to get around and nearly impossible to outmuscle but he averages a ridiculous 2.1 blocks per game adds a whole new dimension to what a team does on that end of the court. And while Howard is still working on his offensive game he averaged 20.6 points per game last season to go with 14.5 rebounds.

Teaming Howard up with Pau Gasol should make for one of the best front courts in the league if not the best front court in the league. The Lakers needed to make a splash to get back up to the top in the NBA this season because while they have enough talent to get to the playoffs, getting into the conference finals was a completely different thing but with Howard they are a strong contender to do just that, if of course the NBA allows their move this time.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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