After a rough 2011-2012 playoff run, all Laker fans asked for was that Dwight Howard be in purple and gold for the 2012-2013 season. Who cares about what happened in Orlando? So what that Dwight is coming off back surgery? JUST GET DWIGHT HOWARD TO LOS ANGELES!
Laker Nation got their wish and six-time All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year was all ours. We rejoiced, sitting on top of the basketball world with the acquisition of Steve Nash to lead the offense and role players like Jodi Meeks and Antwan Jamsion signed to bulk up the bench play.
Fast forward to mid-December and the fact the Lakers are on a three-game winning streak against mediocre teams (if that), should not appease fans, but unfortunately, it does. Everyone has an opinion on the slow start to the season, but fans have heard every excuse in the book.
However, one possible solution is not getting enough attention: plain and simple, get Dwight Howard the ball! You say “but the guy is averaging 18 points per game and 12 rebounds, he is putting up great numbers.” Well the fact remains that these numbers are a far cry from Howard’s potential. Over the past 10 games, Howard has never lead the team in field goal attempts (which isn’t much of a surprise); however, over that same span Howard has been a lone 2nd in attempts only once and in 5 of the games has been either 4th or 5th in field goal attempts. Sounds strange, huh? Why wouldn’t you want the player who leads our team in field goal percentage (.576%) shooting the ball more? This has to play a factor in the Lakers recent woes going 4-6 in December and finding their record under .500.
The reasoning behind it is that in D’Antoni’s offense, players like Metta World Peace and Jodi Meeks (although playing spectacular as of late) feast and have the go ahead to jack up what seems to be any shot. What about the post game? With players like Howard and Gasol working down low, they will always demand attention. This would open up so many more of the beloved perimeter shots D’Antoni is looking for.
Howard coming into the season knew that this was not yet his team and he would not be taking the majority of the shots. However, he could not have expected his role to be so minute offensively. This week, ex-Laker center Andrew Bynum had some words of wisdom for Howard as he spoke about playing with Kobe: “He’s going to get accustomed to playing with Kobe obviously, and not touching the ball every single play”.
Even with the lack of shots, Howard has to be admired this year for the professionalism he has shown pushing through this stretch. Howard knows he is not being utilized to his full potential, but he is putting up outstanding numbers for a player who isnt even 100 percent. You would think the media would be all over this issue, but it seems as if they seem to be more concerned with Gasol’s absence from paint. Mind you, the Lakers have shown that Gasol is expendable, but this year is a test run for Howard. If Howard does not like the direction this team is going, he can go wherever he pleases come free agency this summer.
Let’s hope that Howard’s lack of touches is addressed sooner than later and with Steve Nash set to return to the lineup, Howard will get more looks at the basket. Knowing that size is one of the Lakers biggest advantages and that Kobe will generally take 20+ shots a night, players such as Jodi Meeks and Metta World Peace cannot continue to shoot so often. If the offense continues going down this path the Lakers could be in for a bumpy ride. Instead of coach D’Antoni focusing on tweaking the offense, different rotations, and getting open looks on the floor, maybe it is time for to start looking down other avenues and pulling for the Dwight Solution.