5. Dwight Howard
After the Lakers acquired Nash they became serious Western Conference contenders, but the trade that got them Dwight Howard made them into legit title contenders. Prior to Howard, the Lakers had Andrew Bynum anchoring the paint, a player who had the potential to be great but was not at a desirable maturity level.
Howard, on the other hand, is the best center in the league and someone who gives it his all every single game. Howard has been playing exceptionally well so far this season as he is averaging 20.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. As for Bynum, well, he hasn’t even hit the court yet for the Sixers.
4. Pau Gasol
The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Pau Gasol in 2008 and he changed the franchise around overnight. At the time, the Lakers were a mediocre team and there was a good chance that they would be knocked out in the first or second round. Kobe Bryant was the only star on the team and he could only lead the Lakers so far.
However, when Gasol came to the team everything changed and there was excitement in Los Angeles that had not been there since the Kobe-Shaq era. That very season, the Lakers ended up making the 2008 NBA Finals, and even though they lost, the franchise won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 with Bryant and Gasol leading the way.
Next Page: Numbers 3 and 2