After Dwight Howard shook the basketball world on Thursday with the announcement he’d become a Laker, many have begun to wonder who the best team in the NBA is. Is it the that team from south beach, who managed to get the whole country to hate them in 2011, then miraculously came back in 2012 with a whole new attitude and became champions? The team that made beating the Thunder look easy in June, and followed it by signing Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis? Or is it that team in LA that has just added two future hall of famers to a team that already had a future hall of famer, and a legend at that. So they now have a big 3… Of future hall of famers.
Below is a debate about whether the Heat or the Lakers are the better team. Read both arguments and then decide who you agree with, because on the bottom there is a poll which will show which of these authors “won the debate”. Whichever author gets the most votes will earn $5, as a reward for winning the debate. So vote wisely, because these votes do matter.
[one_half] Written by: Jake Dal Porto
These days, the successful NBA teams are predicated on having a “big three”, or in some cases, a “big four”. The Celtics started the new trend when they assembled a roster that heavily relied on Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce. Now, practically every general manager is trying to follow in the same suit. The Miami Heat were the latest team to find success with this tactic, but the Lakers have a vastly better core or “big three”. Thanks to the additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, the Lakers’ front office has mustered a championship type roster.
First of all, some big three groups work, and some don’t. The Heat’s worked just fine— they won a championship predicated on three players. However, it’s not the exact combination that the Lakers have cracked. The Lakers’ big three consists of three variables that each contribute something different. Nash is a legendary passer, Bryant is a legendary scorer, and Howard will soon take over the role as a legendary rebounder/finisher at the rim. Miami’s big three consists of two scores, and Chris Bosh, who rarely touches the ball now that Lebron James and Dwyane Wade have overtaken the scoring duties. The point is, each member of the big three on the Lakers fits in. A pick and roll combo of Nash and Howard is lethal. The Heat don’t have that in their playbook. At least not with the caliber of players as Howard and Nash.
Yet, his tank is not empty. His numbers have dipped slightly over the past three or so seasons, but he’s still an above average power forward. Howard should take some pressure off of him as well. Yes, Bynum essentially fit the same bill during his stint in Los Angeles, but Howard’s reputation and all the baggage that comes along with it will draw much of the attention towards him. Maybe fans will forget about Gasol’s playoff flop? He will practically be the fourth option in the Lakers’ offense, a role that suits him well at this stage in his career.Plus, the Lakers boast more quality depth on the frontline. The loss of Andrew Bynum will hurt, but Howard will quickly wipe away Lakers’ fans tears with his presence. A piece that shouldn’t be forgotten in this equation, though, is Pau Gasol. Yes, the same Pau Gasol that flopped during the 2011-2012 playoffs, averaging just 12 points and about nine rebounds. He heard a decent amount of criticism from Kobe Bryant, fans, coaches, and pretty much any living Lakers object.
Aside from Bosh, the Heat have a mediocre front court at best. Rashard Lewis, Joel Anthony, and Udonis Haslem are considered the main backups, but that group can’t touch the Lakers’ back big men of Antawn Jamison, Jordan Hill, and Josh Mcroberts.
Right now, the Lakers have the edge. Say all you want about Lebron and Wade, but the Lakers are the better team now. The front office has already revitalized the Lakers without pressing the rebuild button. Most GM’s generally just tear apart their entire roster in hopes to build around one player. Not Mitch Kupchak, Sure Nash and Bryant won’t be around for much longer, but Howard looks to be the building block when they retire. The Miami Heat are solid, but the Lakers are officially the new team to beat. The team that’s garnering all of the hype. And the team that’s going to have a target on their backs from day one. That’s just how they are. It’s like good old days for the Lakers.[/one_half]
[one_half_last] Written by: Adam Lufrano
First, getting the obvious out of the way, the Heat are the World Champions. They were arguably the best team in the NBA the past two seasons and they finally proved it last year. They won four straight over the Thunder to close out the NBA season, a team some people thought were better overall than the Heat. While the Thunder have more depth overall on their roster, the Heat’s star power was simply too much for them to overcome last year.
Looking at the Lakers for a second, they gave up Andrew Bynum to get Dwight Howard. Obviously Howard is the best center in the NBA, but Bynum is definitely a top three center in the league. Does the jump from Bynum to Howard really make the Lakers better than the NBA champions?
Bynum averaged 18.7 ppg and 11.8 rpg last season. While Howard’s numbers were higher, they are not that much better, especially when you consider Howard played 3 minutes more per game and Bynum had Pau Gasol as a front court mate. Also, when you consider that Howard is the best defender in the league, it is surprising to see that Bynum had only .3 less blocks per game. Bynum also had less turnovers per game than Howard and shot 20 percent better from the free throw line. I am not saying Bynum is better than Howard because he’s not. However, Bynum is one of the best centers in the league, like Howard, so swapping them out in LA shouldn’t push them over the best team in the league last year (the Heat).
The Lakers also got Steve Nash this offseason, and while he is a great point guard and can still do what he does best even at his increasing age, he still is a huge defensive liability (it shouldn’t make a big difference with Howard in the paint, though) and he is unlikely to make the difference he can make on paper because Kobe will want to control the ball as well. Trading for Dwight Howard gives LA there own big three. Is it better than Miami’s? Well, for one, all three Miami stars are great on offense and defense, while Steve Nash simply cannot play good defense. Also, even though they don’t play the exact same position, Howard is better than Bosh, but LeBron and Wade are better Bryant and Nash, especially at this point in Bryant and Nash’s careers. The Heat’s big three are simply better than almost any big three combination you can think of in the NBA that’s possible, and LeBron is the best player in the league, period.
Also, don’t forget the Heat’s big acquisition this offseason, Ray Allen. Allen can still shoot the three at a very high percentage, and he’s also good on defense and he can pass the ball. Lack of depth has been a knock on Miami in the past two years, but with Allen coming off the bench now it makes the Heat a lot scarier, especially from a scoring perspective (like they needed to get tougher).
All in all, while the Lakers made two big moves this offseason in acquiring Nash and Howard, the Heat’s big additions of James and Bosh two years ago still matter just as much. There’s simply no way that Bryant, Nash, and Howard compare to Wade, LeBron, and Bosh, and while the Lakers have depth (don’t forget Pau Gasol), they simply cannot be considered better than the champions just yet.[/one_half_last]