There’s a story in the Sentinel today debating the topic of who would you take to start a franchise with, Dwight Howard or LeBron James? If you put it to vote around the country, LeBron would win in a landslide. He’s the league’s most popular and all-around player, and his combination of size and athleticism is like no player that’s ever played the game. A lot of what Dwight does well isn’t necessarily tangible (drawing double teams, altering shots, scaring opposing slashers from going to the rim) like LeBron’s sickening stats are, and that’s a big reason LeBron gets more love. But Dennis Scott makes a good point in the article: “Traditionally, I’d have to go with the big guy — Dwight. At the end of the day, you need that inside presence … for defense, rebounding. He opens everything up and makes the game easier. Not to discredit LeBron, but as good as he is, I think it’s easier finding another LeBron than a Shaq or a Dwight.” While LeBrons aren’t necessarily growing on trees, his point has merit. You’ve got Wade, Pierce, Carmelo, Durant… None are as good as LeBron, but they’re close. Dwight has no centers that are close to him – Yao, when he’s healthy, and maybe Al Jefferson. Amare Stoudemire is in the same ballpark, but the whole Dwight/Amare argument has pretty much been settled. Dwight’s emergence on the inside has opened up a lot of things for the Magic. When Dwight works the pick and roll – whether it’s with Hedo, Jameer or Anthony Johnson – it opens up the entire floor and creates space for all of Orlando’s sharp-shooters… You can’t defend Orlando’s pick and roll with two defenders. And Dwight is annually in the top 10 in shooting percentage, meaning he doesn’t hurt you as much as LeBron can. When Dwight has an off night, he doesn’t kill the Magic, he just doesn’t help them. LeBron, meanwhile, can devastate his team with one of those 8-for-28 shooting performances. It doesn’t happen often, but it kills when it does. So give me Dwight, provided he continues to develop his offensive game from 15 feet and in. It doesn’t matter much, anyways. I think both players will win a championship within the next five seasons.