This is a very quick and crude numbers analysis of what Dwight Howard does to the Lakers. Howard is the best defensive big in the NBA. Last year, the Lakers were 13th in the NBA in defense. From 06-07 to 10-11 the Orlando Magic were never worse than 6th worst defensive team in the NBA.
It is fair to assume the Lakers with Howard will move to top 5 in the NBA in defense. That is approximately a 2.5 pts per game improvement and that equals to a 6.75 win increase over the season.
On the offensive end, Bynum used 18 possessions a night and averaged one of the leagues best 1.02 pts per possession (league average is .91). Howard used 21 possessions a night in Orlando last season and 22 the previous season. Howard averaged a 1.03 pts per per possession. The difference is almost nothing. Over 20 possession in a game the .01 difference is worth only .2 pts per game and ,54 wins per season.
Therefore, the quick analysis has the Lakers a good deal better than they were a year before exclusively on the defensive end. Last year, the Lakers point differential was only 1.4. If they are 2.7 pts per game better and improve to a 4.1 point differential then they still trail last year’s Thunder (7.2), and Spurs (7.2), but places them clear above the rest of the west.
In addition, the Lakers added Steve Nash. However, from an early breakdown on Nash it was surprising how little the Lakers offense improved despite Nash’s addition.
Conclusion, the Lakers are better but they have not closed what was an enormous gap to the Spurs and Thunder