Dwight Howard’s defense is what will earn him minutes as a role player in the Los Angeles Lakers’ rotations.
It is official, Los Angeles Lakers fans. After multiple evaluations and workouts in the big man department, Dwight Howard has become the Los Angeles Lakers’ choice to fill their final roster spot.
With the recent injury to DeMarcus Cousins, the Lakers had to revise their plans and use that spot for a center to backup, JaVale McGee, the only true center remaining on the roster, instead of a forward.
After missing almost the entirety of last season for back surgery, the center is said to be completely healed and in tip-top shape, ready to prove he has left his past conduct and health issues behind and ready, at 33 years old, to embrace whatever role he is assigned.
Although some fans might not appreciate his return after the way he treated Los Angeles back in 2013, his help could come in useful. Actually, Cousins’ injury might reveal a not total disgrace for the purple and gold.
As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski stated.
Howard came to meet Lakers after dropping 25 pounds; showed his back was healthy. Lakers want him to protect rim/rebound in limited role. There was sense Howard realized he hit “rock bottom” and had been humbled. Still they’ll judge him on actions, not words. He’s been warned.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 23, 2019
While everyone focuses on his blocking ability, Howard would rather be crucial on another aspect of the defensive end.
Despite the career-season he had last year and his great contribution as a shot-blocker, McGee was not a good post defender. In fact, he was regularly abused in the low post and the Lakers were destroyed by top big men in the league. They are in strong need of a good defender able to contain opposing centers, and the former three-time Defensive Player of the Year might be the answer.
In his prime years, Howard was an outstanding defender, matching night in and night out against the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan and Yao Ming. He comes from an era of basketball when centers still dominated the paint and were a moving force in the league.
While still being a recognizable threat as a shot-blocker, Howard’s low post defense could be a bigger contribution to Lakers’ cause, even bigger than what Boogie’s offense could have ever been.
As a matter of fact, the former Wizard might prove critical in an eventual Finals matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers led by Joel Embiid.
As we can remember, last year, the center crushed the purple and gold with a 37 point performance in the regular season. That is what is going to happen most of the nights the Lakers meet such players if they do not have some strong body to throw at them to try and limit the damage they could do in the interior.
Howard looks perfectly cut for this job. At this stage in his career he will be a role player asked to play defense in limited minutes and his experience and strength will match very well with this new wave of young centers in the paint.
The Lakers do not miss proven scorers but a strong defense is still to be built and not guaranteed. The more good defenders they manage to assemble, the better for Frank Vogel’s plans, regardless of his defensive strategy.
Although coming as a late sign and a on a non-guaranteed contract, Dwight might revel a winning bet and a fundamental piece that helps stabilize LA’s bastions.