After weeks and weeks of trade talks, Dwight Howard is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. In a huge four-team, 12-player trade, the Lakers receive Howard, Earl Clark, and Chris Duhon, the Denver Nuggets receive Andre Iguodala, the Philadelphia 76ers receive Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson, and the Orlando Magic receive Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, and five draft picks over the next five years.
With his move to the Lakers, Howard received his wish and now has his best chance at winning the NBA title next season. Playing alongside Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol, Howard is surrounded by talent and won't be relied upon as much on the offensive end. With the Lakers and Nuggets changing up their rosters, how does this affect the Golden State Warriors' chances at making the playoffs next season?
In matching up with the Lakers, the health and play of Andrew Bogut will be even more crucial for the Warriors. As a center with size and skill unfound at the position for years, he'll give the team a respectable matchup to Howard on both the offensive and defensive ends. Backup point guard play will also be crucial in these games, as the Warriors might be able to capitalize with Jarrett Jack over the Lakers' Steve Blake and Duhon.
That being said, while Howard to the Lakers is the big move of the trade, it won't affect the Warriors much at all. As the superior team to the Warriors, the Lakers are not their biggest competition for the lower playoff seeds.
Instead, the Nuggets acquisition of Iguodala may be the bigger concern for the Warriors. A playoff team for the past few seasons, Denver will be one of the Western Conference teams fighting for the No. 5 through 8 playoff seeds. An improved Nuggets team makes the Warriors' path to the postseason a little more difficult.
In what may be one of the deepest Western Conferences in recent history, the Warriors will have plenty of competition for one of the eight playoff seeds. With the Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, and Memphis Grizzlies likely being playoff-bound teams, Denver increased their chances with the Iguodala acquisition. This means the Warriors will likely have to contend with all of the remaining Western Conference teams for the final two playoff spots.
Even prior to this trade, the Warriors had a steep climb ahead of them and will need all their pieces to come together in harmony in order to have a successful season. The Howard trade will simply add a little to the difficulty of this tough task.
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Austin is a lifelong resident of the Bay Area, lifelong basketball fan and Golden State Warriors supporter, and a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow this contributor on Google+ and Twitter @_austinchang.
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