Now with the Dwight Howard saga over with, we can now focus on a different question other than, “Where will Dwight end up?”. As the title of this post says, can he live up to Shaq’s Legacy now that he is on the Los Angeles Lakers?
It looks like history has repeated itself. In 1996 it was Shaq who left Orlando to L.A. and now here we are 16 years later, another great Center in Orlando takes off to the Lakers. That move comes with a little pressure for Dwight and that is whether or not he can live up to the legacy Shaq built during his 8 seasons with the Lakers. Well, lets see what Shaq did and we will just have to see if Dwight can measure up to those standards. Shaq’s tenure with the Lakers: 3 NBA Championships, 3 Finals MVP Awards, Scoring Title, and a Regular Season MVP Award. His regular season stats were 27 points and nearly 12 rebounds and for the postseason he averaged nearly 28 points and over 13 rebounds a game.
Pretty simple right? Ok, not really. Dwight comes into Los Angeles with career averages of 18.3 points and 13 rebounds per game and is a 6-time All-Star in 8 seasons with the Magic. Like Shaq he was the franchise player for Orlando and if he decides to sign an extension with the Lakers next summer he will likely be the franchise player for the Lakers as Kobe Bryant is nearing the end of his career. They will build around Dwight and he will be the guy who will have to lead them to win multiple championships, but is he capable of doing so? Yes he is. Shaq himself said he needs to average 28 and 15 a game for them to win multiple titles, he may not have to do that while Kobe and Nash are playing but when Dwight is the main guy after they leave, he will have to raise his level of play because 18 and 13 will not get it done. The potential is there but it is up to him if he will take that next step and put up Shaq type numbers and be as dominant.
If Dwight doesn’t focus on being able to feel the giant shoes of Shaquille O’neal and just focuses on being the best he can be then he will be just fine. He needs to take advantage of his new journey and form a new legacy with his new team as he did with Orlando. (if he decides to stay with the Lakers)