Dwight Howard Gives the Lakers….

J.M. Poulard —  August 13, 2012

The Los Angeles Lakers pulled off the seemingly unthinkable last week when they hit one of the biggest homeruns in franchise history by acquiring Dwight Howard in a four-team trade. Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss have proven that their commitment to adding more championship banners to the franchise has never been more strong given the way they have shaped up the roster in this offseason.

The purple and gold acquired the best center in the league, a certified game changer at both ends of the floor, but it’s still worth visiting what exactly that means for the Lakers when we break things down. In order to do so, Forum Blue & Gold reached out to Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball to obtain some insights on the big man:

“With Dwight, you’re getting the best defensive player in the NBA (only LeBron is his peer defensively). I think Mike Brown will have a field day coming up with schemes tailored to maximize Dwight’s strengths on defense. On offense, 1/5 pick-and-rolls with Nash and Dwight will be devastating. And with the mere presence of Nash, Kobe, and Pau on the court, Dwight should have a field day in the low post with his scoring and passing. 

“Dwight represents a far better fit with the new-look Lakers, as opposed to Bynum, because of his ability to get the most out of Nash (and vice-versa) in pick-and-roll sets, as well as his ability to make a far-reaching impact on defense — like hide Nash’s defensive deficiencies, for example. And because of that, I fully expect L.A. to be a devastating team based on talent and fit alone. How good they can be ultimately falls on Brown’s coaching ability.”

Most will look at what Howard brings to the table defensively and honestly, it would be hard not to do. Indeed, according to basketball value, last season the Orlando Magic boasted a defensive rating of 101.52 with the big man on the floor, but that figure ballooned to 108.60 when he was off the court. A big reason for that was his ability to protect the paint.

D12’s gifts on the defensive end shine bright when he is asked to be a help defender as he finds ways to either block or simply change shots all the while avoiding fouls. Howard’s instincts and basketball IQ make it as such that he is constantly in a position to help out his teammates should they get burned on the perimeter.

And yet, he still has more to offer defensively.

The big man’s foot speed, long arms and defensive technique make him one of the best pick-and-roll defenders in the league given that he is able to successfully execute every type of coverage needed to thwart the screen roll action. Howard can hedge out strong on the ball handler and recover in time to protect the paint, trap the man with the ball or play off him without necessarily exposing himself to getting burned off the bounce.

Consequently, teams that are anchored defensively by Dwight Howard promise to protect the paint like a fortress. According to NBA.com’s advanced stats tool, when the former Olympian was on the court for the Magic last season, Orlando only surrendered 33.4 points in the paint per game when projected over 48 minutes. When the former Defensive Player of the Year was off the court mind you, those figures went up to 44.1 points in the paint per game (once again, projected over 48 minutes).

The Lakers as a whole last season gave up 41.5 points in the paint per game and thus stand to benefit from the big man’s presence on the defensive end.  

Howard is a defensive ace that should more than likely upgrade the Lakers’ defense, but he also brings something else to the table: offense.

As Eddy Rivera stated, Howard will be a perfect fit when playing with Steve Nash because of his ability to catch and finish in the pick-and-roll as well as Nash’s ability to deliver the ball in such a setting. According to MySynergySports, Dwight Howard converted 74 percent of his field goal attempts — he shot the ball 73 times in such situations last season — last season in the screen-and-roll action. That’s a staggering conversion rate, but given that he does a good job of catching the ball and then going up and finishing strong over defenders, it makes sense.

But just for comparison’s sake, let’s take a look at Andrew Bynum in the same situation. Given that the former Laker big man often towered over his defenders and did a good job of getting position right next to the basket as the roll man in the pick-and-roll, one would expect him to convert more than his fair share of attempts in this setting. MySynergySports tells us that the All-Star center converted 57.1 percent of his field goal attempts — 35 such attempts — last season as the roll man in the pick-and-roll action, which is an impressive figure all by itself. And really, that puts into perspective just how much of an excellent finisher Howard is.

This becomes quite tricky for opposing defenses when Howard keeps setting screens and rolls to the basket because he typically attracts of wave of defenders; which is how the Magic shooters consistently got open last season.

Although the Lakers only converted 32.6 percent of their 3-point field goals last season (tied for 25th in the NBA), Howard will help them consistently get open looks from long-range but it will also open up the court for midrange shooters such as Kobe Bryant, Antawn Jamison, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash to name a few. And well, let’s just say that if you had to rely on these players to hit an open jumper to save your life, you’d feel pretty confident about your odds.

Howard comes to the Lakers with an effective but not quite aesthetic post game as well as athleticism destined to bring more highlights to the franchise but he also comes with a glaring weakness. Those that followed the Lakers in the Shaq era are quite familiar with it: the team will get in the bonus early and probably lead the league in free throw attempts, but they will miss their fair share as well given D12’s inability to convert a high percentage of his freebies.

With that said, provided that he is the same player prior to surgery on his back, the Lakers are getting a once in a generation type of talent that just happens to perfectly fit with his new roster.

Can we get the season to start already?

J.M. Poulard

Posts

43 responses to Dwight Howard Gives the Lakers….

  1. Interesting interview on back surgery and recovery expectations from the Cedars-Sinai chief of spinal surgery. Breakdown and link to the full interview here: http://www.reddit.com/r/lakers/comments/y407u/robert_klapper_chief_of_spine_surgery_at_cedar/

  2. He is a doctor without much experience with super-athletes like DH12. give me one example who was as superman as DH12 and recovered from this kind of surgery, besides Pippen.

    baawaa…

  3. “A certified game changer at both ends of the floor”. So true the impact he brings is monumental. Some may say Durant is almost as good as LeBron but the impact LeBron has on games LeBron never will. Same is the case with Drew and Howard.

    Great analysis on the 8th paragraph. Only one other person can do that as effective KG.

    Brown turned Varejao into a defensive nuansce. One can only imagine how Dwight will play in that scheme.

  4. Yes, it is best to ignore the views of the chief of spinal surgery for Cedars-Sinai, and instead follow the wisdom of an anonymous blogger on a basketball site whose credibility is beyond repair (Bynum = league’s most dominant player; Tony Parker = “average” PG; etc).

  5. Great post, and thanks for the great link JB, there’s been the whole February timetable being thrown around this is very reassuring.

  6. Funky,
    Took you long enough, but we knew that eventually you would see the light.
    Sincerely,
    “Forum Blue and Gold Lakers Blog and Orthopedic Consults”

  7. dwight gives the Lakers…more ships…

  8. What he brings is not as important as what he could take away.

    Watching the Olympics and Kobe’s interviews, I think it is not too absurd to expect that Kobe has finally realized his place appropriate for the time in his career.

    Maybe it was all the Dream Team comparisons, but Kobe, to me, has reached his MJ moment – not Jordan’s, but Johnson’s. Magic was the elder statesman of the Dream Team, finally realizing that the league was no longer his but Jordan’s.

    If 2008 showed everyone else why Kobe is Kobe, 2012 showed Kobe that the youngsters have learned from Kobe and have now legitimately surpassed him. Practicing and playing with LeBron and Durant and maybe even that little trash talking with the young PG who later broke his hand… and now getting talent on HIS team that he can acknowledge in Nash and Howard.

    Surely the arrival of Nash alone probably would not have changed him, nor would have watching the younger Olympians, but getting Dwight and keeping Pau probably makes it easier for him to accept a lesser role in offense – something he now will admit subconsciously by reiterating that 2012 is his last Olympics, and that the franchise will be Dwight’s after his contract is up.

    While I’m not ready to sign Kobe off as a contributing role player and I doubt that’s what Kobe has in mind, I am quite sure that he no longer feels that he has to be the main weapon for the Lakers. How that will translate to his play next season will be very interesting, and I really can’t wait to see yet another stage of Kobe’s career.

  9. Wait a minute… you mean that our resident “genius” and know it all wasn’t right about ‘Drews knees/Dwight’s back?!

    This is one of the most anticipated seasons, for me, that I can remember! We have a HOF point guard. We have a center who is arguably the best of his generation. (He is definitely the best defensive center in the game.) We have arguably the best power forward in the game right now. We have a slightly older KB- who still is arguably the best shooting guard in the league. Then you throw in a MWP who is in shape and chomping at the bit.

    Then, the one huge weakness that we had last year, is not as large as it once was. We picked up Jamison for scoring punch and Meeks for shooting.

    I’m almost as excited for this coming year as I was for 87-88 when Riley had guaranteed a repeat!

  10. I really should refuse to respond to Aaron’s posts as a means of self-preservation, but Klapper works on tons of professional athletes– he’s probably the #2 guy in LA behind Robert Watkins, but why let facts enter into the equation? He was also my doctor for a while, but I found him personally unbearable.

  11. any word on whether or not Kareem will be mentoring Dwight and showing him how to play even better in the post?

  12. Excellent post J.M. Can’t say enough about Dwight’s defensive prowness and the impact that it will have on the team. With that being said, what definitely stood out to me are these comments by Eddie Rivera of Magic Basketball ” … I fully expect L.A. to be a devastating team based on talent and fit alone. How good they can be ultimately falls on Brown’s coaching ability.”

    While I fully supported Mike Brown last season and felt that he did a decent job considering the circumstances, this year, he’ll have no built-in excuses. All eyes will be on you Coach Brown. This is what you signed on for when you applied your ‘John Hancock’ to that contract to become the Head Coach of, arguably, the Greatest Organization in all of sports. Time to deliver.

  13. Oh C’mon 2 was not Aaron!
    Guess the sarcasm needed to be thicker:)

    And lest you think otherwise, it wasnt me either!!

  14. It really does look like Dwight is about Mitch’s height. Check it out.

    Not that it matters, since it has been recently established that it’s wing span that determines a player’s ability to play “big”. Just thought it was interesting to confirm D12′s real height.

  15. DH–another star to go with our very own Stevie Wonder. Now, we can conquer the world. That’s why I love you, Mitch. Mike, use the PnR till they stop it regularly. Then go to the movement, backdoor cuts, timing and change of speed/direction plays. Never forget the run-out and early O. They’ll have hell trying to prep for the Lakers. They are the sunshine of my life.

  16. Seems that everyone finally see’s what a posting comedy act what’s his name is.

    Only problem I see with team is Delight’s FT. He is not burdened with the hand problem Shaquille had so there is no good excuse. Having to pull him or deal with a hack-a-How late in games can be costly.

    Rehire Hodges and have DH shoot hundreds per day while on rehab. Could mean difference in Champs or not this year.

  17. I’m really curious to see what Duhon and Clark will offer. I know Clark is a high potential guy. He definitely has got game, just not sure if he’s figured out how to use it, or approach the game mentally for that matter. He might find some time early in the season at the backup 4 if DH is out and Jamison or Hill go into the starting lineup. Search his name in youtube and you find highlights of him scoring a double double with 2 blocks. He’s never been on a team with strong veteran leadership, his contract is on the cheap side….. could be a sneaky good throw-in on that trade.

    As far as Duhon goes, if you youtube his name all you get is video of him on the Magic bench during the playoffs doing the travel dance, and then turning his back on an inbounds pass to lose a playoff game for the Bulls… not promising. But he has talent and has played well for the Knicks in the past, used to shoot the 3 well, And he’s competing with Steve Blake for a spot. I get the feeling one of those 2 guys isn’t going to finish the season on this roster, though I’d like to see one of them figure out what the backup PG’s role is and play it well. Maybe having a solid packup SG in Meeks will help one of them figure it out instead of last season where we had the Sessions/Blake backcourt from hell

  18. Great post J.M. Poulard, and I can’t wait for the season to begin either.

  19. Re Harold at #8, I can only hope you are right. I just got back from working at the London Olympics and had the chance to see the US team in person 3 times, in two group games againts Tunisia and Argentina and in the quarterfinal against Australia.

    I didn’t see anything from Kobe that I didn’t also see last season, but the difference in seeing him play in person the last time (the gold medal game in Beijing 2008) compared to now was staggering. When he gets hot and his (contested) jumper is falling, he still can be a force. He had some good moments as a facilitator, a role he can play superbly if he puts his mind to it.

    Kobe also fought over screens harder than I can remember from most NBA games save a few in the playoffs last season, something that bothered me a lot because it set a bad example for Bynum and others. But in London Kobe made it a point to be physical on defense, to set a standard for his younger teammates.

    On the minus side, when the jumper wasn’t falling, Kobe looked really bad for long stretches. Often enough he got zero separation from defenders who wouldn’t bite on his pump fakes. His handle, as has been discussed here before, seems to be merely adequate now whereas it had once been a strength of his. He repeatedly got pressured in traffic, bobbled the ball and heaved up a bad miss instead of resetting the offense.

    The tournament might have been pre-knee-treatment in Germany, so maybe the procedure plus more rest will make a big difference in Kobe’s conditioning level for the upcoming season. But as always, it will probably come down to Kobe’s stubbornness, or hopefully willingness to let others carry a bigger load that will determine how the season goes.

    The highlight for me though was seeing Pau at London City Airport the day after the gold medal match. The Spaniards were leaving at the same time as me and looked dead-tired. I was too afraid to approach a very sad-looking Navarro and a huge and cleary potbellied Marc Gasol. Pau was browsing books in an airport shop with his wife/girlfriend so I didn’t want to bother him too much. He picked up “50 Shades of Grey” but put it back before I had to remind him that we won’t need 50 shades of ‘grey swan’ from him next season but black swan all the time. So I just quickly congratulated him on winning the silver medal, wished him the best for the upcoming season and told him to bring home the title. Pau was nice enough to thank me and shake my hand, which I take as a promise on the whole ‘bringing home the title’ thing.

  20. I’m seriously giddy at the thought of seeing elite pick-and-roll defense consistently for the first time in a long time. I used to envy the way guys like Garnett and Chandler broke up the PnR and recovered, and now we’ve got a guy in that league.

    “How good they can be ultimately falls on Brown’s coaching ability.”

    Anyone else’s heart sink a little when they read that?

    Also, your moment of Zen: Metta World Peace to play sex-crazed vampire elder on TV

    http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/08/14/metta-world-peace-to-play-sex-crazed-vampire-elder-on-tv-maybe/

  21. … banner #17, 18, 19 and 20.

    It will be very interesting for me to see how we play. We are gonna win alot of games, some we will do it convincingly and easily, some not-so-easy.

    I particularly like to see how Kobe defers to Steve Nash in terms of dominating the ball. Team USA ball has gave Kobe a feel of how it is not to be the team’s top scoring option. He will still give us 22-24ppg but I’m excited to see how efficient he will get them. 47% fg is what I expect.

    Pau Gasol will be more of a facilitator that scores 16ppg as a mere afterthought. How scary is that.

    Dwight will be incorporated in the offense. I foresee him putting up his usual 20-13-2 and with relative ease. I also forsee you-know-who to bash his FT shooting and continue to remind us of how much better his boy(friend) Drew shoots em.

    Steve Nash averaged 12.5ppg last season for the challenged Suns. But he gave almost 11 assists per game on less-capable teammates. I foresee his season averages to be at 30-32mpg while giving us about the same production.

    MWP would be a surprising beneficiary of all this. He will be the last person anyone will guard on offense and he would take advantage of this. MWP’s post game is very strong and he is the last guy you would expect to post and score. But I foresee a comeback season for Ron giving us some 9-5-3 and 1.5spg.

    If my calculations are correct, the starters will yield us some 83-85ppg, that leaves the bench to provide some 25ppg and it will get us up to 110ppg. Jamison will be the main bench scorer and will share some of the load with contributions from Meeks, Hill and Blake.

    Can’t wait for the season to start!

  22. Read this from a comment in a blog. I dont know if he has inside news about Howards health but I would rather listen to this guy than believe speculations from a non-medical blogger:

    “By the way, Dwight’s will be back as good as new. He will be resuming full contact by the end of August and have 2 months to build up his strength and stamina before being ready for the season opener. He had a microdiscectomy through a one inch incision. He probably could have started full activity 3 months ago but early return create a 5-10 percent chance of reherniation so they shut him down for 4 months to be extra careful. There is basically a 99.9 percent chance he is going to come back as good as ever.”

  23. I’m with any _ one _ mouse–there is no way post number two is the real Aaron.

    I hope the “ready by opening night” prognostication is accurate…

    I seriously doubt the FO would have made the move it did if it hadn’t done some major due diligence–just chalk my concern up to healthy fear of the unknown…

  24. mindcrime-

    I don’t think that anyone who posted in this thread believes that #2 was Aaron. We are replying to everything that he has said in the past, in regards to the Bynum/Howard injuries.

  25. The next milestone will be the opening of training camp. Until then we are all just going through the motions and sitting on our hands.

    Isn’t it great to be a Laker fan? How many other fan-bases get to have a really excited feeling almost every other year? We are so fortunate to have the Buss family as owners and Sharman/Jerry/Mitch as our GMs during this time.

  26. From PBT:

    “Last year, on a team where Marcin Gortat was the second-best player on the team and the rest of the roster was at best inconsistent and at worst a hot mess, Steve Nash‘s passes out of the pick and roll lead to scoring 59.5% of the time, which was best among players with 100 possessions, according to Synergy Sports. So he was literally the best pick and roll passer in the leauge [sic].

    Last year, on a team where Jameer Nelson had injury issues, the entire team has chemistry problems related to the ongoing drama, and the offense was primarily geared around perimeter shooters (oh, and he was injured), Dwight Howard scored as the pick and roll man 73.7% of the time, which was best in the league.

    So they have literally paired the best pick and roll passing guard with the best pick and roll finisher in the league.”

  27. There’s plenty of hate going on in Celtics blogs.
    I read in disgust how some Celtics fans are wishing injury on Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.
    When they aren’t wishing season ending injuries to Nash and Howard, they are cooking up conspiracies how the NBA cooked up this trade.

    ome don’t even read the stories properly. They are hating the Magic because they thought Magic gave away Howard for nothing. But they didn’t read the part where Magic could have arguably the second best or at least Top 5 Centre in Bynum or a pretty good player in Igoudala BUT chose not to.

    The weirdest part was how they are predicting the Lakers will still be outplayed by OKC, Spurs, and even mavericks. All these while at no time acknowledging they have a much worse chance now of beating the Lakers. Wishing injuries on others still left the worst bitter taste in my mouth. What happened to sportsmanship and competitive yet respectful dialogue?

  28. @ KenOak–

    Me and my inability to detect sarcasm. This is exhibit number one for why I hardly use texting or emails to communicate about anything involving humor or sarcasm. I end up not getting it.

  29. JH,

    As we all know, there are great people and clownshoes in every fanbase, including ours. Look at the upside: if you are at the point of hoping the other team’s stars get injured, that is just a way of saying, “I don’t think we can’t beat these guys.”

  30. The Lakers need to hire a full time shooting coach to work with Howard and others(Ebanks,Morris,Clark). Don`t want to re-visit Hack a Shaq again.

  31. rr, you are totally right.
    There are plenty of people scared of the lakers potential. I am just glad this forum doesn’t degrade itself to that level. I have not seen such comments here. In fact I remembered posters wanting a fully healthy opponent so that there are no asterisks no excuses. That’s how sports should be! Be the best & beating the best.

  32. “Can we get the season to start already?”

    I couldn’t agree with this more. I can’t remember being so excited and interested in a season of NBA basketball in years. And I’m a huge NBA basketball fan!

    But there’s just so many interesting stories to watch coming into this year.

    1. Will a retooled and reloaded Laker team be able to get back to the promised land of the NBA finals?

    2. Can Kobe win his Jordan tying 6th ring?

    3. How cool would it be to get Nash a ring after his amazing career?

    4. Who wouldn’t want to watch Howard and Lebron in the finals battling for “best player alive” status? Right now, that’s Lebron.

    5. How will Bynum do with his own team where he’s the alpha dog in Philly? My prediction: he’ll get his stats and be an all-star, but he doesn’t have the chops to ever be the alpha dog on a truly title contending team like a Duncan or a Shaq or…a Howard.

    6. How much fun is it going to be watching Jodie Meeks thrive as Kobe’s backup?

    7. Can Pau develop a reliable three point shot to be a true floor spacing big in order to coexist better with Howard?

    8. Will Bill Simmons’ head actually explode if Kobe gets a 6th ring?

    9. Can we get a picture of Simmons shedding giant crocodile tears? How sweet would Simmons’ tears of agony taste if we collected them in a cup and drank them?

    10. Just how good is Denver shaping up to be? I look at that team and I actually could see them as a contender in the west.

    11. How much more fun is it going to be watching a playoff series between the Thunder and the Lakers when Kobe can be well-rested in the 4th quarter?

    12. We’ll be able to see once and for all whether or not Mike Brown can actually coach or has just been incredibly lucky with the teams he’s been able to coach. No excuses for the Lakers not looking incredible this year.

    13. Who will be the backup PG? It is my fervent hope that Darius Morris can end up with the role after benefiting from Nash’s tutelage. Nash is the answer in the short term at PG. Could Morris be the answer long term?

    I could go on and on.

  33. The closest comp for Howard historically is Bill Russell. Athletic. Defense oriented. Horrible foul shooter.

    The main differences being Howard is much stronger, and Russell was more intense about winning, and more a student of the game.

    With this supporting cast, Howard should be able to bring a few titles home. Howard is the best player on this team today. Nash is Cousy. Kobe needs to start watching film of Havlicek.

    Sure they were celts, but they were also the winningest team ever, not a bad model.

  34. 11. How much more fun is it going to be watching a playoff series between the Thunder and the Lakers when Kobe can be well-rested in the 4th quarter?

    How about how much fun will it be to watch a floor general like Nash running the team in the closing minutes of a game and having complete confidence he will get the ball into the right teammates hands. BYE BYE Iso ball you have over stayed your welcome, made me age 10 years over the past 2, gave me reason to almost destory my own tv. Free at last, free at last, TGAM Im free at last.

  35. Tom Daniels,
    Whether you are talking the Celtics in the 60s or the Bulls in the 90s you have to take into account the competition.

    In the 60s the Celtics had most of the best players because they could sign them – they had money and, pretty much, all the other teams didn’t. Other teams had one or two really good players, but most teams just didn’t have the talent – top-to-bottom – that the Celtics had. They had a really great coach/talent manager and a really great team leader. Until 1967 the main competition was the Lakers, and they had two great players with the rest being just passable.

    In the 90s the Bulls were head-and-shoulders above other teams. This was because of coaching and total team talent. The other teams were not nearly in their class.

    Last year there were 4 really good teams battling it out. Greatness has to be evaluated in context to the environment they play in. That is why it is so bogus to define the best-of-all-time, be it team or player.

  36. I normally ignore Henry Abbott articles that refer to Kobe in any way, but this one is good:

    http://tinyurl.com/8vblcbb

    I’m in complete agreement here. Think of these last two years as less of a new dawn, and more of a last hurrah. The CBA as currently constituted will change the landscape dramatically in a couple of years.

    But if you’re going down, you might as well go down in a blaze of glory, right? And I commend the Lakers FO for that.

  37. My counter to those who worry that teams will use Hack-a-Dwight is that although Dwight isn’t a great FT shooter, Nash is one of the all-time greatest…. So we can always pull Dwight if we are ahead and in the bonus late in the game and force teams to foul Kobe or Nash.

  38. In spite of all the complaining about “heroball” there is really not much evidence, based on the Lakers’ record in close games or their Pythagorean record, that it is has had much of an effect on the bottom line. Abbott, of course, has never acknowledged that. Last year, for example, the Lakers were 6-1 in OT and 10-4 in games games decided by 3 points or less. Phoenix was 8-5 and played no OT games. The Clippers, with Paul, were 7-6 and 4-1. The Lakers have done worse in other years, but nothing really noteworthy. In 2008, they were 5-8 in games decided by 3 or less, but 4-0 in OT. Phoenix, led by Nash, was 3-5 and 1-2. Boston, which went 66-16, was 7-6 and 2-1.

    This is only one piece of evidence of course.

  39. Howards FT’s should be no problem we did win 3 chips with Shaq

  40. Bringing back PJ at the helm is the only missing piece for a championship with this current roster. Mike B?How many rings does he have – zilch. 6 yrs w/ Lebron. It only took 2 yrs for Spoelstra to get LBJ that ring. No ring this year, maybe 3 yrs down the road, just maybe.

  41. I’m not sure that I would call Dwight a game changer on the offensive end of the floor. He will work well with Nash, but that is because Nash is a game changer on the offensive end. If Dwight can’t overpower (And he is not close to Shaq in that regard) he is fairly useless offensively unless you can get him the ball at the rim or if he is getting it off the glass.

  42. A bit off-topic, but I think you’ll enjoy this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BddTWBOeUJo