1. Welcome! Please take a few seconds to create your free account to post threads, make some friends, remove a few ads while surfing and much more. ClutchFans has been bringing fans together to talk Houston Sports since 1996. Join us!

Kevin Pelton -Will Dwight Howard solve the Lakers' big problem?

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by Clips/Roxfan, Sep 13, 2019.

  1. Clips/Roxfan

    Clips/Roxfan Member
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    Messages:
    1,535
    Likes Received:
    455
    [​IMG]


    By Kevin Pelton
    ESPN.com

    Can
    Dwight Howard fill the role DeMarcus Cousins was set to play for the Los Angeles Lakers? That's what the Lakers gambled on when they signed Howard, who agreed to a buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies, shortly after Cousins suffered a torn ACL in an August workout that will almost certainly end his 2019-20 season.

    Howard is one of the league's most decorated centers, but at age 33 he's more than five years removed from his last All-Star appearance. Now on his fifth team in as many seasons -- not counting the Grizzlies, for whom he never played a game -- can Howard fill a key role for a Lakers team hoping to contend in the Western Conference?


    Different look on offense for Lakers

    Part of Cousins' appeal to the Lakers -- besides a bargain price of $3.5 million this season -- was surely his ability to stretch the floor from the center position. During 2016-17 and 2017-18, Cousins made a combined 235 3-pointers at a 36% clip before making just 27% of his 3s last season while coming back from a ruptured Achilles tendon. Howard has made only six 3-pointers during his 15-year NBA career.

    That spacing ability is important because Howard will be playing alongside Anthony Davis, perhaps the most traditional 4 Howard has teamed with since Pau Gasol in L.A. The Lakers will want to take advantage of Davis as a pick-and-roll threat and a post-up option against smaller power forwards, something Howard's recent power forwards haven't done. The Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets primarily played stretch-4s with Howard, and while Atlanta Hawks teammate Paul Millsap was effective in the paint, he also attempted a career-high 3.5 3-pointers per game alongside Howard. That's slightly more than Davis, who topped out at 2.6 3s per game last season.

    Presumably, the Lakers envision Howard spending a lot of time in what NBA coaches call the "dunker spot," hanging out on along the baseline on the weak side of pick-and-rolls involving Davis and LeBron James or one of the Lakers' guards. JaVale McGee figures to play the same role when he plays with Davis. McGee and Howard have been two of the league's most prolific above-the-rim finishers: McGee was fifth in the NBA with 201 dunks last season for the Lakers, per Basketball-Reference.com, and Howard was fourth with 174 in 2017-18 while playing for the Hornets.

    The key difference between Howard and McGee is that the latter has been largely content to play the role of dunker. Over the past three seasons, more than 36% of his shot attempts have been dunks. Howard has wished to show he is a more complete offensive player who can create his own shot one-on-one. That led Howard to get 668 post-up opportunities in 2017-18, per Second Spectrum tracking, the league's fourth-highest total. The Hornets averaged just 0.86 points per chance on those plays, worst among the 20 players with at least 300 post-ups. By contrast, Cousins ranked ninth among that group at 0.97 points per chance.

    It was one thing for Charlotte to give Howard regular post touches, given the team had few offensive weapons beyond All-Star point guard Kemba Walker. Those possessions will be wasted on a Lakers team with two top-10 players, so Howard will have to be comfortable making pick-and-roll opportunities his primary source of offense. He was busy as a screener during 2017-18 too, participating in the third-most pick-and-rolls in the regular season (2,420) according to Second Spectrum. The 0.96 points per chance the Hornets averaged on those plays were better than league average. I think it's possible Howard could be an upgrade over Cousins in the pick-and-roll game.





    If healthy, Howard solid defensively


    First, a key stipulation: This analysis assumes that Howard will be more like the player we saw in 2017-18 -- factoring in two years of aging -- than the version dealing with a gluteal injury before surgery ended his 2018-19 campaign after only nine games. Though Howard's offensive stats were similar to past seasons, he blocked only four shots in 230 minutes. On a rate basis, his blocks were down 50% from the next-worst season in his career and nearly two-thirds worse than 2017-18. I'm assuming that's a fluke and the Lakers wouldn't have signed Howard unless they believed he was healthy.

    Even after Howard's offensive skills faded following 2012 back surgery, he has remained a plus defender. Through 2017-18, his worst defensive rating in the five years that ESPN has published real plus-minus (RPM) was plus-1.6. His plus-1.8 defensive rating two seasons ago ranked 23rd among centers. Cousins' defensive RPM has fluctuated more wildly. He rated as one of the league's better defenders in 2014-15 (plus-4.7) and 2015-16 (plus-3.3) but as a below-average defender for a center in 2016-17 (plus-0.6).

    Teams still rarely challenge Howard around the basket. According to Cleaning the Glass, he has ranked in the top 10% among all centers in reducing opponent attempts at the rim while on the court in every season since winning NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2008-09.

    Howard was heavily involved in the pick-and-roll game at the defensive end in 2017-18, defending more ball screens than any other NBA player during the regular season, per Second Spectrum. Charlotte defended those plays at an above-average rate.

    Occasionally, Howard's reluctance to leave the paint to defend stretch-5s can be an issue -- the Lakers would do well to crossmatch defensively and put Howard on such players if the matchups permit it -- but as long as his mobility isn't compromised by the gluteal injury, he should be a capable replacement for Cousins defensively.


    Howard a reasonable replacement -- if he understands his role

    Howard doesn't offer the same kind of upside as a healthy Cousins, who was one of the league's best big men before his Achilles injury, not to mention the lost floor spacing. Yet in some ways, Howard's combination of defense and finishing could be a better fit for the Lakers' needs so long as he's content to run pick-and-rolls, wait for opportunities to finish from the dunker spot and play defense.

    Of course, part of the reason Howard hasn't returned for a second season with any team since the Rockets is because he has wanted to do more than that, even though his skills no longer warrant a larger role. There's also the matter of Howard's fit in the locker room, the other reason for his itinerant post-prime career. Because he no longer produces at an All-Star level, Howard has quickly worn out his welcome with teammates.

    Having had Howard on the roster in 2012-13, the Lakers know those issues as well as anyone, and yet they chose to bring him on as Cousins' ostensible replacement. So Howard must have given them some reason to believe that the prospect of falling out of the league entirely has convinced him to change. At the same time, the Lakers did protect themselves by giving Howard a non-guaranteed contract. As a result, it's still possible Cousins' replacement isn't yet on the Lakers' roster.



     
    don grahamleone likes this.
  2. Nook

    Nook Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2008
    Messages:
    30,953
    Likes Received:
    27,075
    Howard is a terrible defender.

    Howard also cheats on switches to get rebounds.

    Howard doesn't especially like to roll to the basket.

    Ultimately Howard is tall and can get rebounds and that is about what the Lakers should expect.
     
  3. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2003
    Messages:
    46,741
    Likes Received:
    10,532
    but as long as his mobility isn't compromised by the gluteal injury, he should be a capable replacement for Cousins defensively

    Being a "capable replacement for Cousins defensively" is a punchline by itself.
     
    B-Bob, vlaurelio, tmoney1101 and 5 others like this.
  4. malakas

    malakas Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2014
    Messages:
    16,746
    Likes Received:
    9,219
    If Dwight Howard is the answer to your question then you are asking the wrong question.
     
    RocketWalta, jordnnnn, B-Bob and 6 others like this.
  5. KingCheetah

    KingCheetah Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Messages:
    36,427
    Likes Received:
    11,184
    Dwight is going to shock the world this season.
     
    CometsWin likes this.
  6. Os Trigonum

    Os Trigonum Gone fishing
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2014
    Messages:
    27,101
    Likes Received:
    35,858
    Dwert the early leader for the Comeback of the Year Award
     
    ryano2009 likes this.
  7. don grahamleone

    don grahamleone Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2001
    Messages:
    18,832
    Likes Received:
    16,411
    The Lakers must be working on a vat of soup with all them pot stirrers.
     
  8. don grahamleone

    don grahamleone Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2001
    Messages:
    18,832
    Likes Received:
    16,411
    He's up for MSD too. Most skill deteriorated.
     
    ryano2009 likes this.
  9. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2003
    Messages:
    46,741
    Likes Received:
    10,532
    Like his hero, Thanos.
     
  10. Os Trigonum

    Os Trigonum Gone fishing
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2014
    Messages:
    27,101
    Likes Received:
    35,858
    stop being such a nattering nabob of negativity :p
     
    don grahamleone likes this.
  11. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Insider Newsletter™ 2X Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2001
    Messages:
    29,122
    Likes Received:
    7,194
    Best fart joke teammate for 200, Alex.
     
    tmoney1101 likes this.
  12. CometsWin

    CometsWin Obsession: a persistent disturbing preoccupation
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2000
    Messages:
    25,061
    Likes Received:
    6,742
    B40790BD-6723-4D6F-8C14-8CF2045D0B44-3687-0000081E6AECD3E4.jpeg
     
    KingCheetah likes this.
  13. Zboy

    Zboy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Messages:
    23,788
    Likes Received:
    14,090
    For Dwight to be successful he will have to demand more touches in the post than Anthony Davis is going to get.

    He cannot afford to be passive.

    In his head he has to approach this season as the season that will define his career and his legacy, and in order for him to make a mark, he has to be agressive and demand the ball.

    Take matter in his own hands.

    Do you think Hakeem would take a backseat to Othella Harrington, aka Anthony Davis, and let him steal his touches?

    Do you think Hakeem would let Vernon Maxwell, aka Lebron James. keep chucking from the outside without playing the inside outside game?

    This has been Dwight's problem his entire career...he just does not realize how great of a player he can be if he only asserts himself in the post.

    And how can he assert himself in the post? By DEMANDING the ball. By increasing his post touches while limiting touches by his limited teammates.

    Either Dwight asserts himself this season or he remains a pussy he always has been.

    I hope Dwight reads this and takes it all to heart.

    Amen.
     
  14. banzai

    banzai Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2013
    Messages:
    1,334
    Likes Received:
    515
    Not to mention, Howard doesn't really gel with anyone on any team. It's all about him. ALL THE TIME. Even when he starts talking about how much he's changed. Your actions always dictate. All this stuff about fitting into a role? That's why we're always speculating about Howard and people are always disappointed. We can always hack-a-dwight at the end of games. When you factor that into late game scenarios, our equity is 3:1 on posessions? All-day-every day. Go rockets.
     
    Nook likes this.
  15. Jontro

    Jontro Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Messages:
    25,970
    Likes Received:
    7,240
    the lakers' big problem is they need more drama. dwert should easily solve that.
     
    tmoney1101 and vlaurelio like this.
  16. theimpossibles1

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2007
    Messages:
    4,244
    Likes Received:
    5,009
    Dwight Howard IS the Lakers big problem.
     
  17. vlaurelio

    vlaurelio Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Messages:
    16,568
    Likes Received:
    5,282
    this guys even a bigger cancer than Melo
     
  18. jordnnnn

    jordnnnn Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Messages:
    6,970
    Likes Received:
    3,419
    Always remember there were those who wanted to kick mid 20’s Harden to the curb to build around Dwight f’n Howard.
     
  19. Sanctity

    Sanctity Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2019
    Messages:
    324
    Likes Received:
    192
    Now that I've seen Howard in off season basketball clips I wish the Rockets and Harden could somehow make amends... Give the Lakers Nene in exchange for Dwight and give him a guaranteed contract..
     
Loading...

Share This Page

  • About ClutchFans

    Since 1996, ClutchFans has been loud and proud covering the Houston Rockets, helping set an industry standard for team fan sites. The forums have been a home for Houston sports fans as well as basketball fanatics around the globe.

  • Support ClutchFans!

    If you find that ClutchFans is a valuable resource for you, please consider becoming a Supporting Member. Supporting Members can upload photos and attachments directly to their posts, customize their user title and more. Gold Supporters see zero ads!


    Upgrade Now