It’s official. Dwight Howard is a Los Angeles Laker through the 2012-2013 NBA season. I don’t imagine Mr. Howard NOT signing the
Laker’s multi-year contract extension in the summer of 2013. Dwight’s million dollar smile and persona rivals to that of Magic Johnson and his global brand will take off with the added bright lights of Hollywood. And to put an exclamation point to Dwight Howard staying in LA long term, Kobe Bryant himself has been on record and stated “After 2-3 years, this is HIS (Dwight Howard) team.”
Las Vegas has already moved the betting lines and picked the Lakers as the second favorite team behind the Miami Heat to win the Finals in June 2013. Sorry OKC Thunder fans, I won’t bet against the house on this one.
But what we all want to know, is “How does this trade affect my fantasy team?”
Let’s breakdown the parts.
“THE” Los Angeles Lakers: Dwight Howard, Earl Clark, and Chris Duhon. The easy part, Chris Duhon’s and Earl Clark’s fantasy value going to the Lakers pretty much remain the same, undraftable. Now for the tough part. The fantasy value for Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant will decrease. Let’s face it, there is only basketball to be spread around to these three hall of famers and Steve Nash controls where the ball bounces, literally.
Kobe Bryant: Willing to defer to Steve Nash and Dwight Howard? Really? The Black Mamba himself has already declared that he won’t challenge Father Time, and that this could be the last 2 years we see him play in the NBA before he retires and plays old-man pick up ball in Europe. If deferring leads him to a sixth and seventh title, Kobe is more than willing to let Nash manage the flow and tempo of the game. Kobe will continue to embrace the role of game closer. Even at 33, I don’t doubt Kobe can drop 40+ pts on anybody on any given night, but I don’t see him exerting that much unless he really has to. But I do see Bryant delivering a more efficient 24 pts/5 assists/5 rebounds/ 1.5 3pts made night in and night out (Nash effect).
Dwight Howard: The smile. The swag. Must feel good to be Superman in LA. However, in fantasy basketball expect him to drop in value. He is no longer THE GUY as he was with the Orlando Magic, well for this season anyway. Dwight will dominate the boards, blocks and steals, but his scoring will come down significantly. 18/12 a night with 2 blocks per game? Sure. But 25+pts and 15 boards won’t be the norm. Even though he is donning the purple and gold, that doesn’t mean his ft% will get significantly better. Remember that other former Orlando Magic guy that joined the Lakers? Shaq or someone like that?
Steve Nash: Mr. Nash is an intriguing player to rank. At 38, and with sources close to the Lakers indicating they would like to cap his minutes to under 30 minutes per game, to keep him fresh, his fantasy value is also capped. Steve Nash will still deliver elite level totals in assists per game, along with elite ft% and fg%, but don’t expect him to shutdown guys like Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo with steals. Nash has delegated those defensive tasks to Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace.
Pau Gasol: Initially, Gasol’s fantasy value will be very high until Dwight Howard returns to the court after recovering from back surgery. There is no indicative timetable for a return, but some sources have hinted at a possible December-January 2013 return date. 20pts /12rbs/4assists night with high fg% and ft%? Definitely. But be ready for a counting stat regression come New Year 2013.
Andrew Bynum: Immaturity? Inconsistent? Moody? Whatever, give me a piece of that cheesesteak! The Philly Beast will be unleashed in 2012-13. This is the moment he desperately craved for in Los Angeles: To be the focal point of the team. To be Michael Jackson. Not Tito. He has 2 championship rings as a role playing center with his former team in LA. Now it’s time for Big Show Bynum to get paid like a superstar. And with free agency in 2013, I betting big Bynum will bring it. The New Jersey 7’0” native is going to be a fantasy basketball monster with 20+night/12 boards/ 1.5 blocks and high fg% and good ft%. Find the Laker sucker in your fantasy league that is looking to sell Bynum at a discount.
The “Bleh” Guys:
Andre Iguodala: is talented, but never a true number 1 player, even during his time in Philly. I wouldn’t expect much of a significant bump or decline in his current fantasy value. Still draftable, but he is what he is.
Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, and Nikola Vucevic: Some analysts predict Afflalo to be the next big thing. Well, I will go against the grain and say no. Al Harrington is a 3pt shooing power forward and will get his share of rebounds, and that is about it. If he would contribute more on the defensive end, I would rank Harrington higher, but I won’t. Nikola Vucevic is young budding center, but not one I would be looking to take first off the draft board and build my franchise upon.
Los Angeles Lakers:
Metta World Peace: Well, I think the only thing that changes with the player formerly known as Ron Artest should be..uh… is his name… AGAIN. How about Metta “Wide Open.” With Kobe, Howard, Gasol, and Nash commanding double teams…Metta should be wide open at the baseline ALL THE TIME. But that doesn’t mean those 3’s will fall all the time though.
With that said, “THE” Los Angeles Lakers WILL WIN their 17th title and I will be ready for the championship parade down Figueroa. That is the Los Angeles homer in me talking. But for fantasy purposes, the Lakers might not be the best bet to build your team around, well for this season anyway.
The Sab’s has spoken. Full free to comment back.