COMMENTARY | Los Angeles Lakers superstar Dwight Howard wants to be the main man in Hollywood one day in the post-Kobe Bryant era; when the Black Mamba went down late in the regular season, he got a chance to play that role.
But now, with significant injuries to Steve Nash, Jodie Meeks and Steve Blake in addition to Bryant, the Lakers' depleted backcourt is going to put a lot of stress on Howard's game. Without shooters to stretch the floor, he can now expect more double teams in the post. In Game 2 of the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs, five Howard turnovers on the offensive end and five fouls showcased how difficult life could be for him as a focal point.
That's not to say Howard isn't the best center in the NBA, because he is precisely that. But centers need touches, and they need perimeter players capable of taking some pressure off them in the paint. When that doesn't happen, defenses can collapse and mitigate the effectiveness of the bigs.
Even Shaquille O'Neal had superstar perimeter players in Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade when he won each of his five NBA titles and two Finals MVP awards. In fact, Kobe Bryant was an MVP-caliber player in his own regard when he won the award in the 2001 and 2002 Finals.
Howard is no O'Neal, but in order for him to be at his best and showcase what he can do as the alpha male of the franchise, he'll need help. Now, he has virtually none other than Pau Gasol in terms of being a top-tier player.
At this point, no one expects anything from the Lakers this postseason, but it would have been nice for everyone in and around Los Angeles to see what the Dwight Howard era might look like if he re-signs.
Now, the purple-and-gold faithful won't even have that as a silver lining to this disaster of a season.
Given the way things have played out, that shouldn't surprise anyone.
Michael C. Jones covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA as a Southern California-based sports journalist and editor. He contributes to SB Nation in addition to Yahoo! Sports and is the Managing Editor of Sports Out West.
Catch up with him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets
- Sports & Recreation
- Dwight Howard
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Kobe Bryant