Well it's definitely early to say. I'm going to base the following on a few assumptions:
1. He's able to come back healthy and explosive in a reasonable time.
2. He stays a Laker until he retires.
3. He remains fairly healthy through the future.
Dwight Howard is nicknamed Superman for a reason. He's one of the most dedicated athletes when it comes to his physical fitness and strength. Unlike Shaquille O'Neal, Dwight Howard has very little chance of becoming fat and entitled when it comes to basketball. He's supremely dedicated to keeping himself in shape and if that holds true, he can expect a long and fruitful career.
As far as his Laker legacy goes, a lot will depend on these next 2-3 seasons. In all honesty, he should bring a title to LA this season, next season, and depending on how the roster looks in 2014/2015 that year too. After that, he'll be expected to carry a rebuilt team for a few years. By the time he's expected to lead the Lakers to a ring on his own back he'll likely be around 29 or 30, the twilight of his prime.
I'm hopeful that he comes through this season and the next season. I fully expect him to be a force and to leave an immediate imprint on this team. He should be the Defensive Player of the Year again, the first Laker to win the award since Coop if my memory serves correctly.
All in all, I think Howard has a chance to be better than Shaq and Wilt as far as Laker lore goes.
Shaq left after 3 rings and 4 Finals and ended his career a Celtic. We'll always be grateful to him for what he provided for us, but there's a limit to where I will rank him as a Legendary Laker Center. Wilt did most of his damage in this league before he got to LA. He was still special here, but he only won 1 ring here. If Dwight can win a couple of Defensive Player of the Year awards and a couple of rings, he can surpass Wilt. If he can win an MVP and 3-4 rings along with a couple Defensive Player of the Year awards, I say he's better than Shaq.
I don't know that he can ever catch Kareem or Mikan. Those two had dynasties and I don't know if he can do that, I tend to think he probably can't.
All in all, given my conditions, he probably ends up somewhere in between Mikan and Shaq. He can do that. I hope he exceeds that expectation though. Will he? We'll just have to wait and see.
Stu : "Yeah, that's an old fashioned whoopin'."